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

 

Home Schooling and returning to School

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

A. Although staff are not physically in school, they are all working. Use the school email address if you have a specific enquiry. All school email addresses can be found on individual school pages online.

Q. When will Schools and Early Learning and Childcare settings reopen?

A. Both will be open to pupils from 12 August in line with Scottish Government guidance.

We are working on overarching plans and all schools are currently working on the details particular to their setting and we will provide you with more details as and when we can prior to the end of term.

Please note that initially all communication regarding the reopening plans will be coming from us centrally through the our website, social media channels and Groupcall.  Schools will only be providing detail later in the process.

Q. Why are children not going back sooner?

A. The national decision on when schools in Scotland should return is based on the scientific advice on the spread of coronavirus and what is best for children in Scotland. This advice may be different in other parts of the UK and because of this, schools may open at different times and in different ways in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. 

Schools in different parts of the UK also have different term times and holiday periods, which means that children attend school at different times even under normal circumstances.

Q. When will childminders reopen?

A. Some childminders may need to take time to prepare to reopen safely, and others may choose not to reopen, for example, if they have a vulnerable family member at home. Childminders have also been asked to limit the number of families that use their service, to 4 households at any one time. For some childminders, this might mean that they can't accept all of the children that would normally attend.

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, and will be in touch with you as soon as they can to let you know how it will work for your child, and which days they should come in.

Other changes could 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 ensure appropriate physical distancing
  • changing seating arrangements so pupils are well spaced out
  • ensuring everyone washes their hands regularly
  • teaching in smaller groups
  • staggering lunch and break times
  • deep cleaning more frequently
  • holding more lessons outside where possible
     

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 new school procedures and a time to hear about learning that has taken place at home.

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

Before schools return in August, children due to start P1 or S1 will be supported to start their new school.  Local authorities and schools are working to provide virtual tours of schools, introductory videos and information to help you and your child with this transition. Your child's school will be in touch with you once these arrangements are in place.

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. 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 to ensure everyone stays safe. For example, they will decide whether PPE 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 ELC, P1 or S1 should get extra help with this transition. For example, the school may create a storyboard or resources using Makaton or other sign or symbol languages, or may arrange for the pupils to make a visit (maintaining physical distancing rules).

Social Distancing

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

Social distancing is a priority so pupils attending will be kept at a distance from others as far as possible.

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 can stay a safe distance away from each other.

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.

Transport

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

We have 4,000 pupils who use bus/taxi transport on a normal day during term times. To meet social distancing for example a 72-seater coach can only transport 10 people with social distancing of two metres maintained. This poses a great challenge in co-ordinating how we support parents to get their children to school. We will share our transport arrangements as soon as possible.

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

Unfortunately, despite exploring various models, it is clear that we simply will not be able to provide school transport for all eligible pupils, even where pupils are not in school every day of the week. We are still exploring options of how to support families with transport. To do this an initial survey has been sent to all parents of pupils who normally use school transport to understand their future needs in relation to transporting their children.

Q.  How will transport arrangements change?

We are working with all of our providers to ensure that social distancing and hygiene rules are followed on all transport. We may ask parents to transport their own children on the days that their children are attending school. We are undertaking a survey to establish how transport can be supported.

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.

Free School Meals

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

Plans have now been finalised for our extended free school meals provision for eligible families during the COVID-19 restrictions.

If you need to change your request, you can do so by completing the form again.

Free School Meal Payments

The cash payment is £35 every 2 weeks, per child and allows families the flexibility to make their own arrangements to meet the needs of their child supporting families to make the best choice for their child. The payment of £35 is one of the highest amounts any Council in the UK is making to support families during COVID-19.

You must register to receive the payment.

You need to register by 10pm on a Tuesday for a direct payment to be processed by a Friday for payment to you on a Tuesday/Wednesday. This is a rolling programme until schools return or the end of term, so you only need to register once.

Q.  My child will be starting school in August and will be entitled to free school meals - how does this work?

You can still apply for Free School Meals through our Council website: https://dumgal.gov.uk/schoolmenus

Details will be provided shortly on the arrangements for lunches when children return to school in August.

Information will be sent to parents and made available online.

Q.  What meals will be provided when my child returns to school in August?

Details will be provided shortly on the arrangements for lunches when children return to school in August.

Information will be sent to parents and made available on the council website.

Q. Will my child have lunch in school?

The authority is looking at how best to manage school lunches given social distancing rules. It may be that your child eats their lunch outside (weather permitting) in their classroom or dining hall. Each school will have their own plan for school lunches.

Q. Will my child have to wear school uniform?

Each school will be providing parents with guidance on school uniforms. As we may look to increase the use of outdoor spaces, we may suggest more casual clothes that can be worn indoors and outdoors to reduce the need for changing.

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

Child Protection and Family Support

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.

Family Support

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.

Young Carers support

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.

Key workers

Q.  Will Childcare Hubs be running over the summer?

We remain fully committed to supporting vulnerable children and those whose parents are considered to be key workers. To find out about the latest childcare hub provision please visit https://supportdg.dumgal.gov.uk/article/20772/Childcare-for-Key-Workers

Emergency Childcare

In line with government advice, we will continue to provide emergency childcare once we begin the new academic year from Wednesday 12 August.

Parents will have to apply for this. We will issue information on how to do this soon.

Q.  Where will this emergency childcare be?  Will the childcare be in the same hubs?

It is likely that it will not be possible for this emergency childcare to take place in our school buildings so we are working with out of school care providers and other partners to consider how and where this can best be delivered. As our plans develop, we will keep you informed.

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. The Authority are supporting schools with a recovery curriculum that will focus on Literacy, Numeracy and Health and Wellbeing. No one expects you to be a teacher, but any structured learning you can do at home will help.  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.

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.

Q. My child has questions about coronavirus? What support can we get?

Do your children have questions about coronavirus? To address some of the concerns they're facing in these challenging times, First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon answers questions from kids across Scotland.

https://www.parentclub.scot/kidscovidqs