South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has said that while schools reopening this week is another vital step out of lockdown, both mental health and the attainment gap will be real issues facing educational facilities.

The local MSP has urged the Scottish Government to fully support our hard-pressed councils to provide services to tackle both problems.

As children and young people prepare to restart school after almost five months at home, it is unavoidable that issues will arise for some.

Colin Smyth said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the whole world upside down and as schools reopen, we cannot forget that our children and young people have been seriously affected by so much change and uncertainty.

“Re-opening schools is a vital step out of lockdown, but classrooms are going to be very different places as the pandemic continues and this, alongside months away from their friends and teachers, will potentially have a serious effect on mental health.

“That is why I’m calling on the Scottish Government to do all it can to help our local authorities to support young people as much as possible as they return to school. Proper mental health services must be in place within schools to ensure pupils know where they can turn for support.

“The other issue is the attainment gap. Covid-19 started off as a health crisis but has become an education crisis too and the very last thing we want is for the attainment gap to continue to worsen as a result.

“The exams results debacle just goes to show that schools in more deprived areas are already suffering and this cannot be allowed to continue.”

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