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With Primary Schools Year 1-3 returning to schools today (Monday 22 February), NHS Western Isles is offering some helpful tips on helping your child back to school and offering support and comfort at a safe social distance.

“Starting school can be overwhelming, especially with new rules and routines. What back to school reminders could you offer yourself or others this week?” says the NHS.

One of their displays is the “The Stress Relief Giraffe.”  With their busy schedules and pressure to perform at school during a time of COVID-19 uncertainty, children face a lot of stress, making stress management for kids a hot topic for parents.

The Stress Relief Giraffe offers a clear visual for young people to describe their level of stress as well as some tips for coping

Children in early learning and childcare and in primaries 1-3 have been scheduled to make a full return to nurseries and schools from today (Monday 22 February.) In some of the smaller schools with classes spanning all age groups, the whole school has returned under nationally agreed exceptions. 

In addition, very limited numbers of pupils in S4-6 should also be able to complete in-school practical work that is essential for completing national qualifications on a part-time basis from the same date

Some children and young people with significant additional support needs will also be prioritised for a return to in-person provision, for those most urgently in need of support.

All other pupils, with the exception of vulnerable children and those of key workers, will continue with remote learning.

To complement the return to in-school teaching, there will be a significant expansion of testing. People who work in schools, early learning and childcare settings attached to schools, and senior phase pupils, will be offered at-home testing two times a week.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said earlier in the month: “I appreciate only too well the burden being placed on many families as they navigate this COVID pandemic. I am also acutely aware of the need to maintain teaching and learning wherever possible. In doing so, the health and wellbeing of our children, young people and staff is paramount.

“My priority has been to ensure a safe return for children and young people to school and nursery as quickly as possible. That is why the steps that have been announced … are guided by the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and public health experts.

“Children and young people will begin a gradual, phased return to classrooms supported by a testing regime and enhanced guidance. A sense of caution underpins the plans unveiled today, but this is essential as we work to return to full time teaching in schools.”

Schools have been open since early January to provide learning and support for vulnerable children and children of key workers only. 

ason Leitch CBE, National Clinical Director, said in a letter to parents last week: "With the return to ELC and P1-3, our national guidance has been updated, and ELC settings and schools will be reviewing their risk assessments and may be enhancing some of their own measures. Our key focus is on reducing the risk of adult-to-adult transmission, as well as wider community transmission. We know that we need to continue to reduce contact between adults, including both staff and parents/carers.

"There are some important steps that you can take to support the safe return to ELC and P1- 3.

  • Wear a face covering, both at drop off and pick up time, but also if there are congested areas nearby
  • Reduce congestion at pick up/drop off time. Please limit it to one adult at drop off/pick up time
  • Keep 2 metres away from other adults, whether you are waiting for your child or walking to or from school or nursery and avoid gathering in groups with other parents. (Even if you can maintain 2 metres distance you may create congestion that makes it difficult for others to keep a safe distance when they pass.
  • Avoid car shares and limit use of public transport.
  • Be vigilant for any symptoms in your household, and follow the Test & Protect guidance if anyone displays symptoms.