Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has commented on the latest Covid-19 education update.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, the First Minister confirmed that unless there are changes in the virus levels, P4 to 7 pupils will return to school from 15 March. However, in a u-turn on previous announcements she has also said that ALL secondary pupils would receive some face to face time in school from 15 March, with the intention that secondary pupils would return full time after the Easter holidays.

Colin Smyth said: “This update will be a relief to parents and carers, as well as to young people themselves who have been missing their friends and their teachers.

“Once again, I would like to take this opportunity to praise all teachers, as well as school and nursery staff, for all their hard work over the past year in the most difficult of circumstances.

“However, the last minute change that means all secondary students will go back from 15 March for part of the week will raise more questions than answers. In particular, all teachers will be in schools teaching smaller classes, so who will be supporting the rest of the students not in the class carrying out online learning at home?

“It cannot be underestimated how hard this period has been for all of those who work in a school environment, as well as parents.

“While remote learning is no substitute for being in school, teachers and support staff have been doing everything they can to ensure our children and young people are able to keep learning but the lack of guidance and central support for schools from the Government has made that job harder.

“I also welcome the fact that we finally have a testing regime in place for teachers, school staff and senior pupils and I would encourage everyone to make the most of those tests. However, as with all the Scottish Government’s testing, it’s a year too late. Teachers should have had proper testing in place since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The past 12 months have been a nightmare for many people, be that due to the virus taking loved ones, the physical and mental health impact of lockdown itself or the financial worries the pandemic has caused.

“As we hear more about lockdown being lifted, we must not forget that until we are all vaccinated, Covid-19 is still out there and we must take precautions to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

“People need to continue to act responsibly, use common sense and remember that this pandemic has killed many people across the south of Scotland and ultimately saving lives is the most important consideration in everything we do. We must continue to follow the rules until we are told it is safe to make changes.”

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