Teachers set up online forum to offer support during lockdown

Educators remain optimistic that parents, staff and pupils will bounce back from the new coronavirus lockdown.

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This month will see living rooms and kitchens doubling as offices and classrooms once again.

Scots are legally required to stay at home throughout January except for essential circumstances and schools will remain closed to the majority of pupils until at least February 1.

But the decision to extend online learning came as little surprise to many of those educating our children.

One group of teachers has set up an online forum to support colleagues through the lockdown.

They remain optimistic parents, staff and pupils will bounce back.

Gemma Clark told STV News: “It’s not ideal, no teacher wants to be teaching online. We want to be in the classroom with our pupils but I feel that it is necessary just now.

“We’ve been watching the infection rate rise, it’s been coming into schools.”

Nuzhat Uthmani added: “All the anxiety for me has been from this concept that people think if schools are open full-time then everything is working fine and everything is hunky-dory. When in actual fact, they haven’t seen the disruption that has been caused.

“I think a lot of the time it really has felt like a ticking time bomb, to some extent. You just don’t know when it’s going to happen and there is that continuous fear.”

Ministers are considering whether to prioritise education staff for the vaccination.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would look at how to “accelerate” the vaccination of teachers and school staff as part of efforts to safely reopen schools.

Zem Chefeke, another teacher participating in the online forum, said: “What really makes me uncomfortable is the pitting of teachers against other professions. There is no need for that, it’s not a race to the bottom.

“We all have different things that we are struggling with. There just has to be an understanding that we are facing different struggles, different issues.”

Group member and fellow teacher Douglas Clark added: “There is going to be a tsunami of mental health difficulties, particularly for the young people but also for the adults.”

The First Minister says she cannot guarantee schools will reopen at the start of February, although her aim is to get as many pupils back as quickly as possible.

Sturgeon added that ministers could take a regional approach to allow some young people to return to the classroom when it’s safe in their area to do so.