Covid-19 Briefing for Pupils, Parents and Carers

Information Correct at Date of Publication

Last Published on: Friday, 26 March, 2021 04:56 PM

School Holidays

Schools close today for the Easter holidays, marking the end of the third term. All term-time nurseries also close. Year-round nursery provisions will continue to be open during the holidays.  

We would like to wish all pupils and their families a relaxing and enjoyable holiday after a long and challenging term for everyone.

Schools re-open on Monday 12th April for all pupils across the Western Isles.

Thank You!

As we mark the end of the third term today, we would like to express our sincere thanks to all pupils and parents for your commitment to continuing learning throughout the most recent lockdown.

We appreciate the efforts that children and families made to ensure that there was a very high level of engagement in online and remote learning and there have been many successes and achievements along the way as well as a number of challenges to overcome.

We would also like to recognise and thank school staff for their readiness to adapt and move learning back online again for this term; for the continuing support provided to children and families and for all the preparatory work undertaken through each phase of the return to school buildings to make sure we were ready to welcome our children back.

Easter Study Support Programme

e-Sgoil has continued to work with its national partners to offer a very comprehensive Easter study support programme covering over 60 SQA courses. It will run from 6th to 16th April 2021.

The sessions will provide support for key aspects of courses and hints and tips for achieving success with assessments as senior phase pupils prepare to enter the final term of their current national qualification courses.

Learners can find out more information and enrol directly in the Study Support programme (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) by visiting the e-sgoil website.

Move to Tier Three

From Wednesday 24th March 2021, the whole Western Isles area moved to tier three of the local protection levels and this will result in some easing of the overall restrictions within our community.

Full information about what is permitted under tier three (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) can be found on the Scottish Government's Website.

The change in the local protection levels for the community does not affect the scheduled phasing back of pupils to school.

School Opening – Phase Three

The final phase of the return of pupils to school will now take place from Monday 12th April at the start of the fourth term.

The current requirements for 2m physical distancing between secondary pupils will be lifted from 12th April, meaning that all secondary pupils across S1-6 will be able to return to full-time attendance at school.

All nursery and primary pupils have already returned under previous phases and will continue to attend fully from 12th April.

Secondary schools will continue to implement all required measures to keep schools as safe as possible for all pupils and staff when the 2m distancing requirement between pupils is removed. More detail is provided below about measures including home testing and use of face coverings.

Keeping Schools Safe

All Comhairle schools have strict risk assessments in place to ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep schools safe for pupils and staff. These risk assessments are updated frequently to take account of the latest government advice.

Whilst coronavirus continues to circulate within our community, there will always be a degree of risk to be managed but our measures to protect schools have proven to be effective and efficient.

Use of Face Coverings in Schools

The use of face coverings in schools and nurseries form a very important part of the coronavirus control measures in place. Unless a medical exemption has been confirmed, the following face covering requirements apply.

Nurseries and Primary Schools:

  • Children do not need to wear a face covering.
  • All adults must wear a face covering out-with classrooms/playrooms.
  • Parents must wear a face covering when on school or nursery grounds.
  • All pupils over the age of five must wear a face covering on school transport.

Secondary Schools:

  • All S1-6 pupils must wear a face covering in school at all times.
  • All staff must wear face coverings at all times
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times on school transport
  • Parents must wear a face covering on school grounds.

Face coverings must be properly fitted and reusable coverings must be regularly washed.

LFD Home Testing for Pupils

From the week beginning 12th April 2021, Lateral Flow Device (LFD) home testing kits will be made available to S1-3 pupils as well as S4-6. This scheme is entirely voluntary but we strongly support and encourage participation.

Consent forms and testing kits are available from school offices and pupils participating in the programme undertake tests at home two times per week. Pupils under 16 years of age require parental consent to participate and there is no penalty for not taking part. The LFD home testing scheme has already proven to be successful in identifying potential positive Covid-19 cases and they form an important element of protection to our schools.

More information about LFD testing is available from your school office. 

Safety on School Transport

All passengers over the age of five must continue to wear a face covering at all times on school transport unless the passenger has a pre-approved medical exemption

The previous requirement to maintain 1m physical distancing on school transport will be removed from 12th April but, wherever possible, passengers not from the same household should aim to remain as distanced as space on the vehicle allows. Bus operators should also adopt regular and consistent seating plans.

School transport vehicles are frequently cleaned and ventilation should be operated fully when in place. Hand sanitisation points are available and should be used. Passengers should wash or sanitise their hands immediately upon arrival at school or home.

Additional In-Service Days - Secondary Only

The Scottish Government is providing an additional two in-service days for secondary staff to allow them more time to prepare for the alternative certification model in place this year instead of exams.

Secondary schools will be closed to all pupils, including those of key workers and vulnerable pupils on the following days. Please note that the nursery and primary departments of Sir E Scott and Castlebay schools will be open as normal and only their secondary departments will close.

Nicolson Institute:

  • Friday 4th June 2021
  • Monday 7th June 2021 

Sir E Scott, Lionacleit & Casltebay Secondaries:

  • Monday 17th May 2021 
  • Monday 7th June 2021

SQA National Qualifications

Secondary school staff continue to work with their pupils to prepare and complete course content and assessment materials and this will continue apace when all pupils return on 12th April 2021.

Each of the four schools have been working to produce a calendar of key dates and milestones unique to their lead in to the submission of provisional results to the SQA and this will be shared with pupils and parents.

More information about the alternative certification model (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) being used by SQA for 2021 can be found on the SQA website.