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Schools to return full time in a fortnight

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By Fiona Reid
Schools to return full time in a fortnight

PUPILS will be back in the region’s classrooms full time from August 12 - and parents are to receive an information pack about what to expect.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday confirmed the return to education and now council officials are preparing to communicate with families on areas including school transport and meals.
Education director Dr Gillian Brydson was yesterday asked by councillors if secondary pupils will be able to leave schools at lunchtime.
She said: “We will work with all headteachers to make local plans, that may involve senior pupils going out for lunch but making sure they adhere to social distancing that’s expected in the community.
“It’s a complex picture for 16-18 year olds.”
It was also confirmed that hot meals will be phased back in at school canteens.
On transport, Dr Brydson said they await further guidance but added: “The bus should be considered an extension of the school estate and no face coverings will be required.
“But on public transport we expect them to comply with guidance, including face coverings. We are duplicating routes so we can allow pupils on public transport and try and ensure pupils all get a seat.”
Meanwhile, it is estimated that it will cost £2.2 million to restart education across Dumfries and Galloway up to October, with £470,000 needed for cleaning, £328,000 for transport, £80,000 on cashless catering and £1.3m to cover staff costs.
The Scottish Government has committed funding of £100 Million to support the national return to school and it is anticipated that the local allocation will be £1.37 million.
In regards to cleaning, a “Find it Clean, Keep it Clean” regime is being adopted across all schools with anti-viral wipes available in all classrooms and spaces and staff on site to continually clean higher risk areas such as toilets, door handles and switches.
Commenting, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “Parents and carers will be happy to hear that schools are set to return full time in August, however, after so many months out of education and away from their peers, it is essential the Scottish Government does all it can to help our councils support children and young people to get used to being back in a school environment.
“We don’t yet know what impact lockdown will have had on mental health among our children and without proper attention, it could become a serious issue and its clear with five months out of the classroom the attainment gap will have risen.”
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