The OECD, in Education responses to COVID-19: an implementation strategy toolkit, states that 'School closures can have a negative impact on children, on learning and increase inequalities if governments do not effectively implement measures to ensure every child has sufficient resources to learn in good conditions, in particular in countries where non-school factors play a determinant role in learning outcomes'. The Scottish Government recognises this, and this document is an assessment of the impact of school closures and their reopening on groups with protected characteristics, and collates the considerations of all of
- An Equalities Impact Assessment (EQIA)
- A Fairer Scotland Duty Assessment (FSDA)
- An Island Communities Impact Assessment (ICIA)
- A Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA)
A Children's Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA) has been developed separately where the impact of school reopening on children's rights and wellbeing, particularly in respect of adhering to the UNCRC Articles is explored in further detail.
The document considers school closures and two scenarios for reopening:
- A full-time return to school for all pupils. This was announced on 30 July as the government's approach to resuming in-school learning from August 2020. Full guidance available at http://www.gov.scot/isbn/9781839609404.
- A blended learning approach, allowing for physical distancing to be maintained if considered necessary. Full guidance was published on 21 May 2020 and is available at https://www.gov.scot/publications/excellent-equity-during-covid-19-pandemic-strategic-framework-reopening-schools-early-learning-childcare-provision-scotland/. Blended learning was the planning assumption prior to June, and remained the government's contingency plan for if a full-time return is not possible. The approach is superseded by the above document unless future scientific advice states otherwise.
In summary, our findings show that school closures have had an overall negative impact for most of Scotland's children and young people due to the wide range of support that education settings provide, from a community, social and wellbeing perspective as well as learning. Therefore the reopening of schools is expected to have an overall positive impact for most children and young people, as well as for their families and education staff. However, we must remain mindful that the negative impact of COVID-19 will not be remedied through reopening schools alone. Children and young people, their families and carers and education staff, may need time and additional support to allow them to adapt and recover.
For this reason, this document will continue to be updated where required, and any future iterations will reflect our increased understanding of these impacts as the amount of data and research available continues to grow.