Help keep everyone safe over the Christmas break

Education’s new Sub- Committee Convener and Executive Director have called on pupils, parents and staff to follow guidance and do their best to keep everyone safe over the Christmas break.

They outlined the various changes to contact tracing procedures which will be in place over the school holidays as well as reinforcing messages on how to stay safe.

Convener of Fife Council's Education and Children's Services sub committee paid tribute to the work of the Kingdom's school communities over the past nine months:

"Tackling this virus is one of the biggest challenges we've ever faced and I'm incredibly proud of the way everyone has pulled together and followed public health guidance to keep each other safe.

"There is no doubt that our school lives have been disrupted over 2020, but our schools have done a fantastic job keeping our young people learning and developing over that time, and keeping the spread of the virus to a minimum.

"I would urge everyone to stay safe over the festive break and continue to follow public health guidance so that we can make a positive start to 2021."

Although schools and nurseries will close at the end of the day on Tuesday 22nd December, Public Health will continue to respond to COVID cases that may be linked to schools over the Christmas and New Year holidays. They will identify any potential close contacts of a positive COVID case and make sure those contacts are advised to self-isolate in line with Government advice

If a child has a positive Covid 19 test during the holidays, they will be contacted by Public Health contact tracers. All parents will receive details on how schools are helping with this process.

Over the holiday period parents don’t need to contact the school if a child tests positive but if they or someone else in the household develops symptoms (however mild), they should stay at home for 10 days from the start of their symptoms and arrange to be tested.

Carrie Lindsay, Executive Director of Education and Children’s Services said in a letter to parents this week: “2020 has been a year like no other! That’s why now it is more important than ever that we all follow the rules and remind each other to stick to the rules.

“The Christmas and New Year period is almost upon us and I wanted to make a special plea to ask you all to be extra vigilant in the next few days, towards the end of term, around the school, at home and when out and about in your local communities.

“We have had reports that some of our young people are either not wearing or are removing their masks on school buses. I’d appreciate if parents could, please, try to get through to them the importance of keeping their face covered while on the bus. Most of our school cases are arising from contact outwith school, in the local community.”

She went on to ask that pupils and parents remain ultra-aware when out and about to keep distance from others, don’t give friends’ children a lift to after school events and sports meetings and remember the current advice is that no-one from outside the household should be in your home, including children’s friends.

Schools will close for the end of term from Tuesday 22December and there will be no extension to the holiday period.

Carrie Lindsay continued: “The health and wellbeing of our workforce and our pupils is extremely important.  Throughout the pandemic response, the duty of care we have to the health, safety, and wellbeing of all our employees has been at the forefront of the approach we have taken. The wellbeing of all staff and pupils is central to decisions that we have made in Fife.

“As a local authority, we do not have the legal authority to close all schools or move all schools to remote learning in the current circumstances, according to our legal advice. If there is any change to national advice from either Scottish Government or Public Health Scotland, then, as always, we will take steps to make sure that we follow that guidance.”