A leaked document contains detailed proposals from the Scottish government to extend the school’s Christmas holidays until January.
COSLA’s two-page document revealed that pupils may not have to return to school until at least January 11 in an effort to stop the spread of the virus after the ceremonial gatherings.
Council leaders discussed the topic, proposed by government ministers, at the Covid-19 Education Recovery Group meeting on Thursday 26 November.
Council leaders have been asked to provide their views on the festive holiday of 2020 that takes place between December 18 and January 11.
The document also suggested schools switch to a temporary distance education system after relaxing strict rules related to the coronavirus over a five-day period in December.
It reads: “The Scottish government is exploring a national extension of the Christmas holiday that covers December 18, 2020, to January 11, 2021, either on the basis of either schools remaining closed or temporary admission to distance learning.
Scottish government officials indicated that the goals of the extension would be to ensure that school personnel are not involved in contact tracing around Christmas.
“The extension will be a” break “after the restrictions are widely eased over the Christmas period.
The memo, signed by COSLA Child and Youth Policy Director Matthew Sweeney, also included concerns raised about the proposed changes.
It included the provision of emergency child care to key workers and the time required to properly set up distance learning facilities if this option was selected.
The memorandum reads: “Early comments from the officers, SOLACE and ADES of the Scottish government raised the following points for consideration.
The need to understand clinical advice and any models of the impact of relaxing restrictions more broadly over Christmas on school staff and students.
Clarity of links with restrictions and wider levels as the school context remains closed.
“Evidence so far from the Scottish government indicates that schools have a low risk of transmission.
This proposal may have implications for future considerations about keeping schools open, especially given trade union concerns.
“There will be no opportunity to take care of the children in an emergency as this was provided by the school staff previously, so there will be an impact on the main workers and the children and youth at risk.
“It remains unclear whether early learning and childcare services will be advised to close during this period.
Consider the possibility of learning loss, particularly in the context of exams.
“The need for clarity about funding and ensuring that resources allocated for free school meals etc. are met.
“If a transition to distance learning is required, local authorities and schools will need time to prepare.
“Practical implications including leave entitlement, 195 contract time and potential pension implications, status of other school staff, fulfillment of applicable contracts for transportation, cleaning, and possibly necessitating no prejudice to staffing according to the initial period of closure.”
The memo said the final decision on the proposed extension of the holiday would be taken by Nicola Sturgeon and the other Scottish ministers next week.
A Scottish government spokesman said: “Questions have been raised regarding the timing of school holidays, particularly as some schools explode very close to Christmas.
“This issue was discussed in the education revitalization group meeting today, as there were mixed views and no decision was reached.”
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