FAQ's Re-opening of Schools

An initial FAQs has been prepared in response to enquiries received by the Skills, Education and Learning Directorate.

Speech bubble update

These FAQ's will be expanded on a regular basis, and we will continue to provide regular updates between now and schools reopening on the 12 August.

Communications with parents/carers regarding re-opening plans will be coming from the Council centrally through website. Social media channels and groupcall from your own school.

The Headteacher remains the main point of contact in school about individual matters.

FAQ's

Reopening of schools

Q. When will Secondary Schools, Primary Schools and Nurseries reopen?

The Scottish Government has confirmed that we are able to plan for a full return to education in Scotland. In Dumfries and Galloway, pupils will return from Wednesday 12 August.

Your child's Well Being

Q. My child is anxious about returning to school?  What support is in place?

Teachers will be doing everything they can to help pupils adjust to this situation, which will seem very strange at first. Many pupils may be anxious about going back to school, and some may have experienced traumatic events during lockdown, so teachers will be extra sensitive to the mental health and wellbeing needs of all pupils. The first few days after schools reopen are likely to be focused on welcoming pupils back and getting used to the new set up rather than lots of learning.

We are aware that during this difficult period parents, carers and families may need some support to help manage the wellbeing of children, young people and themselves. Our telephone consultation offers blocks of time when educational psychologists and educational visitors are able to listen, chat with you and offer any advice. You can sign up for a call-back by e-mailing supportinglearners@dumgal.gov.uk or by calling 01387 273784.

Q. What support is there for mental health and wellbeing for my child?

Children and Young People might be finding it hard to return to school. Children will have been away from school for over 4 months. Especially school-aged children whose day-to-day lives will be totally different at the moment. Older children will have a good idea already. Make sure they know that they can talk to you. Making up for a lack of school will be hard but support will be in place. Our Council are supporting schools with a recovery curriculum that will focus on literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing. Help your children to keep in contact with their friends. Everyone is in the same boat and having other people to talk to is just as important for your kids as it is for you.

Preparing your child for returning to school

Q. What online support is there that I can look at with my child that will give us advice about return to school?

We know that children and young people benefit from routines and support from adults that they know and trust. There is good national advice from Young Scot which you may wish to share with children and families to provide reassurance. 

Q. What can I do to reassure my child about safety in school?

Schools will be preparing new hygiene and cleanliness procedures, including more cleaning of buildings and regular hand washing for students and staff. As a parent you can support the school and your child by encouraging regular handwashing at home - when you leave and return to the home, before and after meals and when visiting other places where you are touching door handles, visited the toilet, etc.

Q. What is the school doing to limit contact with others?

Your school may try to limit the amount of times children and pupils move around the school. They will try to limit physical contact between students and teachers or other staff, where this is appropriate. They may stagger your break and lunchtimes and there may be slightly different start and finish times. As a parent you can support the school and your child by asking your child to think about how they work with others? Ask them to explain how they would work with their teacher before and remind them about social distancing between themselves and their teacher, but also remind them that staff are there to support them in their wellbeing.  

Q. What do I tell my child about teachers wearing face masks?

Your teacher may be wearing a facemask so it will be important to have this conversation before your child attends school.  You can remind them that they do not need to wear a facemask in school. As a parent you can support the school and your child by wearing a facemask at home for doing daily tasks and having conversations so that this is not so out of the ordinary.

If you have decided that your child will wear a facemask in school as a parent you can support the school and your child by wearing face masks at home inside the home leading up to the return to school so that this becomes familiar and be clear when this is to be worn.

Q. What advice do I give my child as s/he goes out for lunch?

We all have a responsibility to wear facemasks in shops, the rules that are in place for wider society. As a parent you can support the school and your child by making sure that your child has a mask and that s/he knows that this must be used and that social distancing although not in schools for pupils is really important out in the community.

Q. What else might be different?

Your school may want to ensure that school spaces are well ventilated. This means that you might find that windows are open more often than before. You might also have more learning in the outdoors. There may be one-way systems in corridors and there might be different timetables.. As a parent you can support the school and your child by asking them about this and discussing with them what will help them in school to manage this?

Changes to the school day

Q. Will the school look different?

Exactly how this works will be different from school to school - your school will be planning for this already.

Other changes may include:

  • making changes to how or where pupils are dropped off and picked up
  • changing how people move around the school buildings
  • putting up signs and markers to encourage distancing
  • ensuring everyone washes their hands regularly
  • staggering lunch and break times
  • regular cleaning throughout the day

Q. Can Parents visit the school?

We aim to keep visitors to our schools to a minimum where possible. If you need to visit the school, you must phone the school in advance ahead of going to the school. You will be asked to sanitise your hands before entering the building and will have to observe physical distancing rules. All visitors will be asked to leave their name and a contact number for Test and Protect purposes.

Q. What will transition back to school look like?

Transitions will be different at each school but there will be focus on the wellbeing of your child(ren), to help them understand and adjust to the return to school.

Q. What are the authority and schools doing to support transitions?

Children and young people due to start P1 or S1 will be supported to start their new school.  Your child's school will be in touch with you once these arrangements are in place.

Children and Young People with Additional Support Needs 

Q. My child has additional support needs. What support will be in place?

Some children and young people need additional support, which means that different considerations are required, for example, where staff need to help with intimate care, provision of some medications and healthcare supports. However, schools will be carrying out individual risk assessments where suitable to ensure everyone stays safe. For example, they will decide whether personal protective equipment should be worn. At all times the wellbeing, safety and best interests of your child and the staff will be carefully considered.

Q. What support will there be for pupils with additional support needs?

Pupils with additional support needs who are starting early learning and childcare, P1 or S1 should get extra help with this transition and your school/provider will provide you with further information on this.

Q. Will there be any changes to transport for children and young people with additional support needs?

During the summer, we wrote to the parents of children with Additional Support Needs asking if they would be able to help with transporting their child to school, based on the guidance at that time.  Our Council is currently working with transport providers on arrangements.  Unless you hear from the council about transport for your child, the arrangements that were in place before COVID-19 will apply.

Cleanliness in our schools

Q.  How will school buildings be kept clean?

Our teams have enhanced cleaning regimes for all our schools which are robust and will ensure that our buildings are clean and safe for all our pupils and staff.

Social Distancing

Q.  What about social distancing for pupils that are coming into school?

We will continue to follow Scottish Government guidelines. The latest advice issued on 30 July 2020 has confirmed that no distancing is required between children in primary schools. The same approach is to be taken with young people in secondary schools, but that children and young people should be encouraged to maintain distance where possible by not crowding together or making physical contact. Arrangements will be made in all our secondary schools to encourage our young people to do this.

Q.  Will it be safe for my child to attend school?

Our main priority is to look after your children's safety and wellbeing and to ensure that they can continue to learn and make good progress. Anxieties are understandable and we will work with parents to build confidence. We are putting measures into place to make sure that staff and pupils are safe, follow good hygiene rules and minimising contact between individuals and groups.

The decision to reopen schools is based on scientific evidence. This suggests that the virus is sufficiently under control to start planning for reopening, and that measures can be put in place to ensure it is as safe as possible. The scientific evidence will continue to be monitored and plans will be in place to deal with any change in the current situation.

Transport

Q.  How many children can be transported on a bus?

Scottish Government guidance has indicated that dedicated school transport should be considered an extension of the school estate, i.e. there is no requirement for physical distancing.

Q.  My child is entitled to free school transport - will they still get this?

Unless you hear otherwise, your child's existing transport arrangements will remain in place.

Q.  Does my child need to wear a face mask?

The Scottish Government has updated its guidance.  From 31 August, all staff and school pupils using school transport will also be expected to wear face coverings, bringing it into line with guidance for public transport.

The face mask should be worn for the duration of the journey.

Catering/School Meals

Q. Will we be offered the same menu options as we did prior to COVID-19? 

Each school will make their own arrangements for the school meals service with their catering team and this will be communicated to parents. For the first three days, a very simple option will be applied - meat or vegetarian filling on bread choice of the day. After the first few days then a phased return to a hot food provision. 

Q. Will the time of lunch change? 

The timings of morning break and lunch might vary from previous arrangements to avoid any unnecessary crowding within dining spaces and serving areas. Each school will make their own arrangements and this will be communicated to parents.

Q. Where will the pupils be eating their food? 

Your school will be working hard to ensure that crowding is minimised in any areas. The arrangements for where dining takes place will be communicated to parents by your school. 

Q. If pupils are eating in the dining hall will there be more than one sitting? 

Your school will be working hard to ensure that crowding is minimised in any areas. The arrangements for where dining takes place will be communicated to parents by your school.

Q. If pupils are eating in the class base, what type of food will we be providing?

In the first instance it will be a premium cold food provision, and details of this will be communicated to parents and pupils.

Q. How will lunch money be collected in primary schools? 

We are in the process of introducing cashless catering in all of our primary schools to avoid the need for handling cash payments. Until this is in place, we have made plans to issue envelopes to allow parents/carers to insert monies and send to school with their child(ren). The envelopes that will be provided will be brought into school sealed, these envelopes will be placed in a container inside the door of each class.

Q. My school normally runs a morning break provision; will this continue as it did prior to COVID-19?

Currently we are concentrating on a lunchtime provision. However, the headteacher and catering staff will look to re-introduce the morning break provision as soon as we can.

Q. Will you continue to provide the Breakfast Club? 

Each school will make their own arrangements for Breakfast Clubs and will communicate with parents on what is planned.

Q. Will nursery meals be provided? 

Nursery meals will continue to be provided.

Q. Will pupils be allowed to access vending machines/coffee machines in secondary schools? 

This will be decided by your school and communicated with pupils on their return from summer break.

Free School Meals

Q.  My child is entitled to free school meals, how does this work?

All Primary 1 to Primary 3 children are entitled to free school meals. Pupils from Primary 4 upwards may also be eligible for free school meals. To check if your child is eligible visit https://www.dumgal.gov.uk/schoolmenus.

School Uniform 

Q. Will my child have to wear school uniform?

Each school will be applying their usual policy in relation to school uniforms. Please contact your school for further information.

Q.  Is there any support for families struggling to buy school uniform?

Information on school clothing grants can be found here https://www.dumgal.gov.uk/article/15246/School-clothing-grants.

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)

Q. What happens to the children who get Education Maintenance Allowance?

EMA payments are expected to be made as normal - https://www.dumgal.gov.uk/EMA

Early Years and Childcare

Q. When will School Nurseries reopen?

The Scottish Government has confirmed that schools will be open by 18 August, to all pupils. In Dumfries and Galloway, pupils will return from Wednesday 12 August and your school will contact you to give you details of those arrangements.

Q. When will private and voluntary childcare providers/childminders reopen?

All private and voluntary childcare providers/childminders (beyond those who remained open to support key workers and vulnerable children) were allowed to reopen their settings from Wednesday 3 June in line with public health guidance from the Scottish Government, although there was no obligation to do so.

Updated guidance from the Scottish Government for childminders during Phase 3 was published on 30 July and comes into effect from 10 August. Please contact your individual provider for further information on their arrangements.

School Leavers

Q.  What support will there be for school leavers?

This work is underway through our pastoral care teachers, the employability team and partners such as Skills Development Scotland. This is a high priority and it is our aim to ensure every school leaver has the offer of a positive destination.

Any pupil who was planning to leave but no longer has a positive destination available due to the impact of COVID-19 should contact their school to explore the options available.

Q.  My child is not returning to school and is now preparing for post school transition, what help is available to them?

Skills Development Scotland has a range of supports in place to support young people who are leaving school to move onto the next stage of their learning, or into work.

Using school buildings

Q. Can School Lets and Community Sports Hubs use school buildings?

School lets have been cancelled until the October holidays. Community Sports Hubs can go ahead but the Sports Hubs are responsible for ensuring that appropriate hygiene standards are maintained if they are using any indoor facilities.

Supporting Children and Young People

Q.  Who do I contact if I have a concern about a child or family?

To make sure the child you are concerned about gets the help they need quickly, phone us on 030 33 33 3000.

Q. What support is available to families?

Family support offers a range of services to help families and parents. We work to promote safe and healthy development and strong family relationships in partnership with parents, children and young people.  Please contact Youth Services Team on 01387 260243.

Q. What support is available to young carers?

Young carers are people, under the age of 18 years, who are providing care and support to parents, siblings, or other family members who have a physical or learning disability, illness, mental health difficulty, sensory impairment or who misuse drugs and alcohol.

Young carers carry out significant caring tasks and assume a level of responsibility for themselves and/or another person which would be taken on by an adult.

For support for Young Carers please contact The Carers Centre on 01387 248600.

If you are a young carer in Scotland and aged 16, 17 or 18, you may qualify for the Young Carer Grant. You can find out more information, including how to apply on the government website. You can also phone Social Security Scotland on 0800 182 2222.

Further information

Q. What are the new term dates?

Due to a change in the start of next term we have had to change our term dates and these have been updated on the following web-page www.dumgal.gov.uk/article/15239/School-term-and-holiday-dates

Q.  No one is in my school? How do I contact my school?

As it is the school holidays, please contact your school in the same way you would normally during holiday periods. All school contact information can be found on individual school pages online.

Parent Councils

Q. Can our Parent Council now start up again?

Some Parent Councils continued to work through lockdown via virtual meeting platforms like Zoom and Teams. Others took the decision to stop activity.

We would encourage Parent Council Chairs to liaise with the Headteacher on Parent Council matters via phone/email or virtual meetings to support the wider parent forum once the new term starts.

Q. Now schools are back can our Parent Council meet in the school again?

We are advising that no Parent Council meetings should take place in Schools for at least the first term. We would encourage you to use virtual meeting platforms like Zoom and Teams.  Advice on how to use teams will be sent to all Parent Council Chairs before the start of term.

Q. As a parent Council we are looking for advice? Who can we contact?

All Parent Councils in Dumfries and Galloway have membership to Connect Scotland. If you are looking for support and advice you can contact them via https://connect.scot/

You can also contact Dumfries and Galloway Parent Council Forum and follow them on https://www.facebook.com/DGPCF/

Within the Council you can email Vanessa Morris at Vanessa.morris@dumgal.gov.uk as the officer responsible for Parent Council support.