In-school Learning Returns For Some Pupils Across Highland
22nd February 2021
School communities across Highland are being encouraged to remain vigilant on safety measures as a partial school return begins today.
Chair of the Education Committee, Cllr John Finlayson said: "I am delighted to see the return of some of our pupils to education settings across Highland today.
“However, I want to take this opportunity to urge the members of our school's communities to remain aware and continue to follow national guidance to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus. While we understand the feeling of normality which accompanies the return of pupils to school, it is important to remember that the virus is still present in Highland and in order to protect our school community, and keep schools open, we must work to make sure that there is reduced opportunity for the virus to spread outside of schools too.
“I want to thank each child, young person, parent, carer, staff member and their families for their ongoing compliance with these measures and for their patience and understanding while we have worked to deliver a quality education experience in these challenging times.
“We will continue to work towards the return of our other young people and information will be provided when further guidance is made available from the Scottish Government."
On 16 February, the Scottish Government confirmed the phased return of some pupils to school settings will go ahead from Monday 22 February.
Therefore, from today:
Full time attendance for Early learning and childcare (ELC) children, and for children in P1-3.
Part time attendance for young people in the Senior Phase who need to attend in order to complete practical work that is necessary for the completion of national qualification courses.
For vulnerable children, including a small increase in provision for children and young people with significant additional support needs where there is a clear and demonstrable necessity.
The Scottish Government has made a special allowance for schools with a roll of 25 pupils or fewer, where all of the pupils are taught in one single class. In Highland schools like this, all pupils from P1-P7 will be able to return to school from today.
The current position for school aged childcare settings remains unchanged: only children of key workers and vulnerable children can access childcare in out of school settings (other than childminding services).
Information, guidance, and support can be found at www.highland.gov.uk/backtoschool
The First Minister announced yesterday (2 March 2021) to the Scottish Parliament that all remaining primary school children are to return to school full-time from 15 March, with all secondary pupils returning in some form from the 15 March and until the 2 April. Welcoming the announcement, Chair of the Education Committee, Cllr John Finlayson said: "I am delighted that we can see the return of more of our pupils to school settings in the next couple of weeks.
A visitor management strategy with £1.5 million investments will be at the heart of proposals being considered by Highland Councillors as they decide the local authority's 2021/22 to 2023/24 revenue budget tomorrow (Thursday 4 March 2021). Chair of the Council's Tourism Committee Cllr Gordon Adam said: "Members will be asked to support a long-term Highland Visitor Management Strategy which could provide a range of investment opportunities in roads; parking and visitor management; public toilets; enhanced litter and waste collection services; and provision for motorhomes; and public transport.
People in The Highland Council area will soon be receiving coronavirus vaccines in their local communities with the help of a purpose-built mobile vaccination unit coined the ‘Jabbernaut'. Highland Council transport and housing maintenance staff have procured and built a custom-made mobile vaccine unit for NHS Highland to enable health staff to deliver vaccinations across the Highlands.
The Highland Council today (Tuesday 2 March 2021) widened eligibility and extended the deadline for businesses to apply for its Discretionary Business Grant Scheme. The Council's Economy and Regeneration Manager Andy McCann said: "We are pleased to advise, that following extra money being made available to us from the Scottish Government, we have now opened up the grant scheme to allow more businesses to apply.
To help mitigate the persistent uncertainty and challenges arising from the pandemic, the Highland Council continues its humanitarian support, in partnership with the Community Food Initiative North East (CFINE), which operates FareShare Scotland in the north of Scotland. With funding from the Scottish Government and donations from supermarkets and food suppliers, FareShare, the Highland Council, local community groups and the Third Sector have adopted a collaborative and co-ordinated approach to food support for the wellbeing of households across the Highlands.
The Corporate Resources Committee of Highland council debated the latest account to December 2020 that show an underspend in staffing costs of £14,474. This saving has helped to create a surplus and stated in the report "at current projections for the year-end outturn position suggest a net year end budget surplus of £3.1m, a significant improvement from the £8.7m forecast overspend reported to this committee in November." Councillor Matthew Reiss appeared today to chair the meeting of the Corporate Resource committee following the resignation of councillor Alister Mackinnon.
Members of the Caithness Committee have agreed to use Town Centre Funding to invest in the CCTV infrastructure for both Wick and Thurso. £16,100 will be used to digitalise the existing aging analogue public space CCTV system in Wick town centre and connection of the new system into the council's CCTV monitoring office with £25,625 to do the same for Thurso town centre.
This item was discussed at the meeting and is available on video below. Members of the Highland Council's Caithness Committee have had the opportunity to review and comment on the two updated Active Travel Masterplans for Wick and Thurso aimed at making it safer for people to walk and cycle in and around the towns.
Letters to parents, senior-phase pupils and supportive information to school staff will be issued this week to explain the phased return to schools for some pupils on 22 February, in line with today's announcements and new guidance issued by the Scottish Government. A large amount of work and progress has already been achieved to prepare our schools for the return of P1-P3 children and Senior Phase students who will return for essential practical activities for certification, and we will continue to provide in school remote provision for our key worker and most vulnerable learners.
Retail, tourism, hospitality and aviation businesses will pay no rates during 2021-22 under proposals outlined today. It is one of a series of measures proposed by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes following confirmation of a further £1.1 billion of consequential funding arising from UK Government coronavirus (COVID-19) spending.