Since the national closure of all schools and nurseries on 20 March 2020, in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Stirling Council has adjusted quickly to deliver our education services in a more flexible way.

We ensured continuity of learning through a blended approach of digital tools and paper resources, and also put measures in place to continue supporting vulnerable children and young people.

On 30 July, 2020, in a statement to the Scottish Parliament on the COVID-19 route map, the First Minister confirmed that the latest scientific advice and evidence supported the safe return of pupils to school.

Although children and young people have now returned to school and nursery, the virus unfortunately remains a threat as we head into the winter months, and the Scottish Government has implemented a new strategic approach to the outbreak based on five levels of restrictions.

As such, this remains a fast-moving and complex situation and we will continue to be guided by national guidance and be prepared for all eventualities. 

Individual schools and nurseries will continue to share important updates with families, and we have also pulled together key information and resources below as a helpful guide.

This includes a letter that was issued to parents and carers on 30 October following the announcement of new guidelines for schools and nurseries around face coverings and physical distancing. 

Read our letter to parents and carers on 30 October following the new Scottish Government guidance on face coverings and physical distancing. This supplemented existing guidance that took effect from Monday, 31 August 2020.

Read our news story confirming the reopening of schools on 31 July 2020.

Read our letter sent to parents and carers on 24 June 2020. 

Read our letter sent to parents and carers on 9 June 2020. 

New guidance on the wearing of face coverings in education settings came into force on Monday, 2 November, 2020. The key points about these developments were shared with families in a letter issued on Friday, 30 October.

This supplemented the existing guidance on the use of face coverings by pupils and staff in schools and on public transport that took effect from Monday, 31 August, 2020. Please see our news story for more details. 
 

See below for a Q&A on dedicated school transport following the return of pupils to school on 12 August. This also includes guidance on the wearing of face coverings.  

Q. I would rather take my child to School during COVID 19, can I do this?

A. Yes, you do not need to take up the offer of transport. To ease congestion in and around schools children and their parents/carers are encouraged to travel to school on foot, bike or scooter if possible.

Q. Can my child travel on other dedicated school transport?

A. No. Pupils must only travel on the transport that has been allocated to them to avoid any capacity issues.

Q. Will there be social distancing on school transport?

A. Dedicated school transport should be regarded as an extension of the school estate and physical distancing measures between pupils are not required irrespective of age subject to mitigations in place. This also includes when travelling on the 507, X10 and X10a to Balfron High School within the dedicated areas.

When travelling by public transport 1m physical distancing must be adhered to.

Q. What is meant by mitigations?

A. Important mitigations include: hygiene, ventilation, enhanced cleaning regimes including regular and thorough cleaning of surfaces, and regular handwashing (see below).

Q. What mitigations are in place on my child’s transport?

A.

  • Vulnerable passengers or those self-isolating due to contact with someone with symptoms should not to travel.
  • Parents should ensure their children’s hands are washed using soap or hand sanitiser prior to boarding school transport.
  • Enhanced cleaning of vehicles.
  • All children and young people irrespective of age should wear face coverings on all school transport including public transport.
  • On the 507, X10 & X10a services specific areas will be designated for pupils, however as these are registered services members of the public are able to travel.
  • Vehicle will travel with windows open where possible or air conditioning switched on to assist with ventilation.
  • Passengers asked to remain seated and not swap seats.
  • The consumption and sharing of food and drink is not allowed
  • Children and young people should be encouraged to carry tissues on home to school transport
  • Passengers should travel with their bags on their knees

Q. Do I need to reserve a seat on school transport?

A. If your child is entitled to free home to school transport, there is no requirement to reserve a seat as they will be allocated transport in accordance with Education’s Home to School Transport policy.

Q. My child is showing symptoms, can they travel?

A. Children, young people and adults must not board dedicated school or public transport if they, or a member of their household, have symptoms of COVID-19. If a child or young person develops symptoms while at school they will be sent home. They must not travel on regular home-to-school transport. The school will contact the parent/carer who should make appropriate and safe arrangements to collect the child or young person. In this situation, the wearing of a face covering by the child or young person on the journey home is strongly advised.

Q. What enhanced cleaning measures will be put in place?

A. Frequent thorough cleaning will be carried out paying particular attention to all hand contact surfaces areas such as doors, handrails, seatbelts etc.

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

A. Effective from 31 August, face coverings should be worn by all pupils travelling on all school transport (subject to exemptions), Please note that any face coverings left on the transport will be disposed of by the operator and not be retained as lost property.

 

Q. Do drivers and adults travelling on dedicated school transport need to wear a face covering?

A. Drivers operating on passenger transport services are not required to wear a face covering where there is a partition between the person/employee and members of the public. Where there is no partition there will be seats marked as unavailable for use directly behind the driver to maintain physical distancing. Drivers of taxis and minibuses will be required to wear face coverings.

Any adults travelling by dedicated school transport should conform with the requirements for public transport (1 metre distancing with the wearing of face coverings).

We recognise that the circumstances of many children with Additional Support Needs require adult carers to travel with the children, often in close proximity. In general, it is advised that these adults should be very alert to symptoms, and should wear face coverings as a general rule. However, this should be balanced with the wellbeing and needs of the child, recognising that face coverings may limit communication and could cause distress to some children. Any face coverings or PPE will be covered in individual pupil risk assessments.

Q. Will my bus be at a different time?

A. In most cases transport will be at the usual times, please regularly check the council website for further information and any updates. Timetables for the large bus journeys can be found here: https://www.stirling.gov.uk/learning-education/schools/school-travel-trips/secondary-school-bus-timetables/

Q. My child travels on a taxi – what mitigations are in place?

A. As with dedicated school bus and coach services, physical distancing requirements are not necessary. Face coverings must be worn and it is recommended that in private hire vehicles (which are typically saloon cars) children and young people travel on the back seat. If a child is travelling alone, it is recommended that they sit in the back-left hand seat of the car.

Q. What additional measures will be in place for ASN Transport?

A. As a general rule transport arrangements are the same as mainstream, however individual assessments may be required to be carried out on a child-to-child basis.

Q. My Child needs an escort what additional measures will be in place?

A. Escorts will have to sit 1m away from driver and pupils were possible (individual seating layouts may need to be reviewed), wearing of face coverings and gloves are mandatory for escorts.

General school transport Q&A

Q. I’ve applied for a privilege pass space – when will I hear about a space?

A. Please note that there are currently no Privilege Pass spaces available for St Modan’s High School for 2020/21, as all of the Stirling Council vehicles serving St Modan’s High School routes are full. If this situation changes during the course of the academic year, parents will be informed.

Privilege Pass applications for all other routes will be assessed against available spaces in the next few weeks and we aim to inform parents of whether or not a space has been granted.

Q. Where do I find the timetable for the school bus?

A. They can be found by checking: https://www.stirling.gov.uk/learning-education/schools/school-travel-trips/secondary-school-bus-timetables/

For routes which are not listed, such as small bus and taxi journeys, please call the operator directly.

Q. I’ve moved address in the last school year and not heard about transport, what do I do?

A. Please complete a school transport application form using the link below and we will evaluate the request.

https://www.stirling.gov.uk/learning-education/schools/school-travel-trips/school-transport/

Q. I’ve moved address in the last school year no longer need transport, what do I do?

A. Please e-mail transportcoordination@stirling.gov.uk advising the pupil name and school they attend.

Q. Have bus passes been sent out?

A. Bus passes for those routes which require a pass have been sent by the Transport Co-ordination team. First are processing their passes shortly and will send directly to parents of pupils on those services.

Your child should not attend school if either they or anyone else in the household has symptoms of COVID-19. For more information and health advice, please visit the NHS Inform website.

Please read this letter to all parents and carers from National Clinical Director, Jason Leitch, relating to Common Cold and COVID-19 symptoms. 

 

On 31 August, Professor Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director, issued a letter to parents and carers relating to Common Cold and COVID-19 Symptoms.

You can download the letter by clicking here.

You can download a letter that was shared by individual schools and nurseries with parents and carers that gives details on the process for dealing with potential COVID-19 cases in our settings. 

Support and information 

Parents and carers can find up-to-date national guidance, information and materials about the pandemic on the Parent Club website

Young people can find out more information and guidance about coronavirus (COVID-19) on the Young Scot website.

It's ok not to feel yourself during the current crisis. For tips, advice and support to get through these challenging times, head to: https://clearyourhead.scot/

Other websites: 

Key Scottish Government links

Scottish Government Updated Schools Guidance (30 October, 2020).

The main Scottish Government COVID-19 webpage

Protection Levels (Tiers) for each local authority area in Scotland

Download the Protect Scotland Contact Tracing App

All Stirling Council secondary school pupils have now been issued with a Chromebook as the local authority continues its ambitious rollout of the state-of-the-art digital technology.

By the 6 Nov, all young people in P7 will also be in possession of a device, while P5 and P6 pupils will receive a Chromebook during the current term.

Every secondary school teacher has also been provided with a laptop as part of the Council’s digital drive.

More than 6,200 Chromebooks and laptops will be in the hands of Stirling’s young people and teachers once P6 pupils take delivery of their machine.

The Council’s significant investment in digital technology across its education settings is part of a long-term strategy to equip Stirling’s young people with the skills to thrive in an increasingly digital workplace and society.

It has accelerated since the national lockdown, supplemented with funding from the Scottish Government’s Digital Inclusion Grant, due to the focus on increasing levels of digital inclusion to support learning.

Major infrastructure work has also been undertaken in both primary and secondary schools to support the digital provision expansion.

Please see our news story for more information.

Stirling Council’s priority continues to be that our young people’s hard work and dedication is fairly recognised, and we will work with our schools and the SQA to ensure that this is the case.

There will be no external assessment of National 5 courses in the 2020-21 academic session – either by an exam or by coursework. Higher and Advanced Higher externally assessed exams, including the completion of coursework where appropriate, will remain as planned.

The latest updates on the 2020-21 national qualifications, can be found on the SQA website

For our new story on this year's results, which includes support and helpline numbers, please click here

Please see below for recent key statements and updates from the SQA on the 2019/2020 academic year:

On 19 June, the SQA published a statement and guidance relating to the appeals process for this year's national qualifications: 

On 3 June, the SQA provided a new update on the alternative certification model for this year's national qualifications:

Stirling Council welcomed children and young people back to school and nursery on August 12 following a Scottish Government announcement on 30 July. 

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister confirmed that the latest scientific advice and evidence supported the safe return of pupils to school.

The Council had been working towards a return to full-time schooling after the summer break in line with ongoing Scottish Government guidance.

Individual schools shared arrangements for this return with parents, carers and young people.

Stirling Council nurseries also reopened to children on 12 August after new guidance was published by the Scottish Government confirming it was safe to do so.

As required by the Scottish Government, contingency plans for a blended learning model, with pupils attending school and nursery on some days and learning at home on others, remains in place. 

Click on the links below to view the letters shared with parents and carers in the Stirling Council area over the summer and the news story confirming the re-opening of schools and nurseries from 12 August. 

News story on the reopening of schools and nurseries (31 July)

Letter to parents and carers (24 June)

Letter to parents and carers (9 June)

For details on the Scottish Government’s decision to fully reopen schools, including a link to the updated guidance, please head to the Scottish Government website.

The guidance on the reopening of early learning and childcare settings can also be viewed on the Scottish Government website.

While children and young people have returned to full-time schooling, we have also put in place, as required by the Scottish Government, contingency plans for a blended learning model, with pupils attending school and nursery on some days and learning at home on others.

We hope these plans do not need to be put into practice, but it is important you are aware of these arrangements and know we are prepared for all eventualities in these uncertain times. Individual schools and nurseries will continue to provide you with specific details on these plans.

Stirling Council is offering 1140 hours of free early learning and childcare per year for eligible children from August, subject to COVID-19 scientific and health advice.

The provision is available across all local authority nurseries, private and voluntary partner settings and partner childminders.

Letters and guidance were issued to parents and carers on 14 July advising them of the announcement and how the arrangements will work.

Please see our news story for more details.

With the ongoing pandemic, it is now more important than ever that everyone across Stirling keeps their eyes and ears open for children at risk of neglect and abuse

All communities can do their bit to protect children from harm. If you are worried at all about a child’s welfare, it is much better to say something than do nothing.

If you are worried about a child, you can contact us to report concerns.

During the day you can contact Stirling Council Social Work with concerns on 01786 471177.

Out of Hours (after 5pm and weekends) you can contact the team on 01786 470500.

If it is an emergency, contact the Police: 999 emergency number or 101.

With the current local and national restrictions, children will be spending more time online. Websites such as www.net-aware.org.uk or www.thinkuknow.co.uk help people report abuse and offer information on how to minimise potential risks from others online.

The Scottish Government’s latest guidance on out of school care can be viewed here.

In-school supported study is temporarily cancelled during Level 4 restrictions.

The Scottish Government issued new advice on shielding children on 2 July. A review by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health stated that the majority of children with conditions including asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, and kidney disease do not need to continue to shield and can return to school when it reopens.

For more info on the advice, head here. 

Stirling Council continues to comply with the latest Scottish Government guidance for schools and other settings and  robust control measures are in place to protect the health of pupils and staff.

Risk assessments were in place as part of the work to prepare for a return to school. These included plans for cleaning, hand washing and physical distancing. These risk assessments are updated in line with the latest scientific advice and Scottish Government guidance. 

We will provide updates on how we will provide free school meals to families during the Christmas break as soon as possible.

During lockdown the Council delivered packed lunches to homes of children who are entitled to free school meals.

This continued over the summer holidays in the form of a week's worth of groceries to produce packed lunches. 

As pupils and staff are returning to school a week early after the summer break, an additional week’s holiday will be included at the end of Autumn term (12-23 October).

To view school holiday dates for 2020-2021, please head here.

Stirling Council recognises the value of a school dress code in enhancing the ethos and sense of belonging in a school, along with promoting safety and well-being.

Schools set their uniform policy in consultation with pupils, parents and staff. At this time, some schools may make minor adaptions to their school dress code. Individual schools will provide further information on this.

Free sanitary products are now available again for young people at collection points in Stirling Council schools. 

During lockdown and the closure of schools, the Council teamed up with Scottish social enterprise, Hey Girls, to provide a free online ordering service to ensure young people were ‘period protected’ during the pandemic.

The last orders have now been taken for this service. 

Please note that products may take up to six weeks to arrive once ordered. We will work to keep this time as short as possible but we also want you to plan ahead.  If you don’t receive your order after six weeks please email: SPandYP@stirling.gov.uk

For more details, visit: https://www.young.scot/get-informed/stirling/period-protected-during-covid-19

Application forms for Footwear and Clothing Grants for school session 2020/2021 are now available on the Stirling Council website:
https://www.stirling.gov.uk/learning-education/schools/school-meals-uniforms/footwear-clothing-grant-school-meals/

Application forms for the Education Maintenance Allowance are also now available:
https://www.stirling.gov.uk/learning-education/schools/school-meals-uniforms/education-maintenance-allowance-ema/

If you still have questions, please check our learning and education webpage

Other key service updates during the current crisis can be found on our dedicated Coronvirus education page

If you require more details, please contact your child’s school or nursery or email: educ-comments@stirling.gov.uk

Last updated: Friday, November 6, 2020 3:41 PM