The new term has started but schools remain closed and there is no indication, at this point, of when they will re-open.
Reflecting on this very unusual situation, Robin Calder, Executive Manager, Quality Improvement with Shetland Islands Council says:
“All our schools are currently communicating with their parents and carers to explain arrangements for remote learning at home for children and young people over the coming weeks, including the use of Scotland’s education intranet, Glow.
“The measures in place will enable children to access learning materials on Glow, prepared by their teachers, communicate remotely with them, and receive feedback on their learning.
“Parents should contact their school if they require support or advice in supporting their children’s remote learning.”
Further support and guidance on remote learning for staff, pupils and parents and carers is also available in the new Glow Blog, ‘Shetland Digital School Hub’ with information on health and wellbeing, online learning resources and professional learning options for staff.
Mr. Calder adds:
“We recognise that many parents will be worried about the current situation.
“Parents should not feel pressurised to try and replicate the school day at home, especially when many are trying to work from home, or are employed in key worker roles.
“During the pandemic, the health and wellbeing of all families come first.
“Parents should encourage their children to have short periods of dedicated time during each day, engaging with the learning activities organised by the school, but just as important is that children get daily exercise and fresh air, in line with the government’s social distancing rules.
“Baking, reading, arts and crafts activities, and playing board games, all provide valuable learning opportunities.”
Parents should contact their school if they do not have access to a mobile device in their home so that the SIC can look into possible support.
There are also areas of Shetland with limited access to broadband and connectivity and, where this is the case, alternative arrangements for remote learning are in place.
Meanwhile, Children’s Services are in regular contact with the Scottish Qualifications Agency (SQA), following the decision to cancel exams this year.
Instead of exams, teachers will be submitting estimated grades to the SQA based on young people’s progress and assessment results over the course of the year.
Pupils in secondary four to secondary six should continue to carry out tasks set for them and communicate digitally with their teachers.
Secondary settings will also continue to update parents on SQA developments.
Arrangements are also in place to support vulnerable children and children with complex additional support needs, including regular communication between school staff and families.
Outreach provision in a few school settings is being organised.
In addition, Shetland Islands Council continues to make provision for the children of key workers to ensure that they can provide critical services for our community.
Chair of the Council’s Education and Families Committee, George Smith:
“I fully endorse and thank all those involved in the education system in Shetland for the huge amount of work going on to maintain educational delivery and childcare for our key workers during this very challenging and worrying time.
“We look forward to when all our pupils can return to schools and be reunited with their friends and their teachers.”