South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has urged parents across the region to keep pressure on the Scottish Government in a bid to ensure the right back to school plans are rolled out in August.
Over the past couple of weeks, councils have been preparing contingency plans for children to return to school later in the summer, while the Scottish Government has refused to come up with the money they will need for costs such as extra school transport and more cleaning.
Colin Smyth has said while councils are doing the best job they can given the challenges the face, much more needs to be done to get children back to school for as much of the week as safely possible.
The local MSP believes that proposals for one or two days a week from councils don’t go far enough and believes no pupil should be in school less than 50 per cent of the week in the short term, with a move back to as close to full-time schooling as soon as possible.
Colin Smyth said: “As we approach what would have been the start of the traditional school holidays, I am urging parents to keep pressure on the Scottish Government to ensure the best back to school plans are rolled out across our region in August.
“Local councils are working around the clock to ensure children are able to restart their education in a safe way, but they have been seriously hampered by the Scottish Government.
“The fact that the government has not come up with a single extra penny to help our schools to restart safely is shocking.
“Education departments are now faced with the daunting task of providing extra cleaning and more pupil transport from their already squeezed budgets just to get children back in school two or three days a week.
“Either the Scottish Government needs to make its position known on social distancing and whether it intends to reduce the current two metre level to allow as many children back as after the holidays, explaining exactly how this will be achieved safely, or the government must give councils more resources to allow more children to be taught at any one time.
“This could involve using other buildings to teach in with appropriate changes to the required specifications from the Government and bringing in retired, supply and recently graduated teachers and those who have just finished their probation, who ridiculously have found themselves out of work, to ensure we can get kids back in more than half the week sooner rather than later.
“No child should be in school less than half of the week and even that should only be short term, with a return to as close to full time education within a matter of weeks.”