Edinburgh council unveils plans for reopening schools

Pupils set to enter new school year full-time next month if virus is suppressed.

Edinburgh council unveils plans for reopening schools Getty Images

Plans for the reopening of schools in Edinburgh have been unveiled.

Pupils are set to enter the new school year full-time on Wednesday, August 12, with no social-distancing rules in place.

This, however, is dependent on a continued suppression of coronavirus.

The council estimates that, under its plan, the extra costs for reopening schools will amount to £20.2m.

Hygiene measures

All school building entrances will contain hand sanitiser dispensers for use by staff and students.

Stocks of soap and sanitiser will be checked and replenished at the beginning of every day, and posters will be on display encouraging pupils to wash their hands for 20 seconds.

To ensure classrooms are well-ventilated, staff will aim to keep doors and windows open wherever possible.

Meanwhile, all school areas will be cleaned daily by staff using methods and products in line with government guidance.

The council is also considering alternative cleaning methods, including the use of “medical grade electrostatic spraying technology and patented chemicals”. These are said to be more effective than normal cleaning methods and will reduce time and financial costs.

Staff will be required to wear appropriate PPE when participating in high-risk activities including feeding children, working with children with exceptional healthcare needs and engaging in physical direct care for a period of more than ten minutes.

Social distancing

While pupils will not be required to follow strict social distancing, measures will be in place to decrease overall physical interactions.

Pupils will need to adhere to any Scottish Government guidelines with regard to maintaining separate groups or clusters within schools.

If necessary one-way systems will be implemented within school buildings and where possible children will use external space to move between buildings.

Meanwhile, staff will maintain two-metre social distancing among one another until government guidelines change.


Learning for pupils in lower primary school years should be “strongly play and experience based”, while upper primary will focus on literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.

Both primary and secondary schools will look to maximise outdoor opportunities, with parks, forests and beaches within two miles of each school available for use.

Children unable to attend school because they are isolating will be supported during home learning.

An audit of all student devices and IT equipment will be undertaken to ensure pupils have what they need.

As for school meals, pupils will be initially be provided with packed lunches, mostly comprising sandwiches and soups, with hot meals returning soon after.

Pupils eligible for free school meals who are isolating at home will have an equivalent monetary payment made to their parents.


School start and finishing times are likely to be staggered. The number of start and finishing times will vary among schools.

Parents will be asked to refrain from entering school grounds and a pick-up and drop-off protocol will be arranged on an individual school basis.

Pupils using school transport will not be required to social distance, however mandatory mask wearing could be introduced depending on virus containment levels.

Where public transport is used by pupils, wider government rules apply, and masks must be worn.

Contingency plans

Edinburgh City Council has also unveiled detailed contingency plans for schools, should control over the virus regress.

Further detailed plans are in place to cover a range of scenarios, including when schools can only function at 50% pupil capacity with social distancing in place.

Should this be the case schools will adopt blended learning, where teaching takes place online, on school grounds and in council spaces such as community centres.

Pupils would attend school on a rotational basis across four days, with Friday being reserved for home-learning only.

Story by local democracy reporter Noa Hoffman

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