Almost all pupils in Falkirk district have returned to school

Around 97 per cent of pupils went back to Falkirk Council schools this week despite flood, fire and coronavirus.

By Kirsty Paterson
Thursday, 20th August 2020, 4:45 pm

And there was praise for how the staff of Laurieston Primary coped with the drama of a kitchen fire that led to the school being evacuated on the day Primary One pupils were supposed to be settling in.

Director of Children’s Services Robert Naylor said: “All of the children were taken to an adjacent park and from what I’ve heard back from parental comments it was a Primary One day to remember for these children.

“They got to see fire engines and then they got a good play in the park before it was time for their parents to come and pick them up.”

Sign up to our daily The Falkirk Herald Today newsletter

Pupils started going back to schools on August 12

Since the schools returned full-time on Monday, Mr Naylor said the attendance – around 97 per cent – was what he would expect at this time of year.

He said: “Any suggestions that parents might not send their children to school because of the pandemic don’t seem to be founded.

“There are one or two families we are engaging with who have concerns about their children returning but it’s very small numbers.”

He also confirmed that as of the time of the meeting on Thursday there had been no positive Covid tests for children across Forth Valley, not just in Falkirk.

Arrangements for extra daytime cleaning are being kept under review and he said the pupils had been well-briefed.

“The children have responded very well to the new requirements for them,” he said.

He also reported that transport was working well and school buses were running as normal.

A shortage of taxis for ASN children means some are having to do double runs which makes some children slightly late, while other leave a bit early but the director was hopeful it would return to a normal service soon.

Mr Naylor also reported that they had met with trade union colleagues to discuss risk assessments and guidelines and had feedback that they were satisfied with the robustness of the arrangements.

He said that school meal delivery would be reviewed on August 30.

At the moment primary pupils are eating in their own classrooms to prevent children mixing and the meals on offer are limited.

Councillor Adanna McCue, the SNP spokesperson for education, said Children’s Services had literally ‘weathered the storm’ to reopen schools.

She said: “Lots of parents were needing assurance and clarification and the department has worked extremely hard to reassure parents and this is an excellent outcome.

“Everything has been thrown at Children’s Services in the first week: wind, rain, fire, electric storms! You couldn’t write it!”

Labour’s education spokesperson Alan Nimmo said he found it surprising that bus drivers have to wear masks and senior children don’t.

He said: “It’s double standards, it should be none or both – I’d prefer it to be both.”

Mr Naylor acknowledged there was a debate about whether senior pupils should be wearing face masks, particularly on transport, and the guidance may change at some point.