Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advanced Learning Recovery Group minutes - 24 August 2021

Minutes from the group's meeting on 24 August 2021.

Items and actions


The chair (Jamie Hepburn - Minister for HE, FE, Youth Employment and Training) welcomed all to the meeting.

All agreed the minutes for the previous meeting (10 August 2021) are accurate.

Action: to be published on the SG website.


  • Public Health Context (update): Diane Stockton: Education Recovery and COVID-19 Vaccination Surveillance, Public Health Scotland
  • COVID-19 modelling and projections: Audrey MacDougall, Head of C-19 Analysis Division

In discussion, the following points were made:

  • the extent that consideration of Covid data, as part of Public Health Scotland role in meeting with Government clinicians, informs decisions on the movement across the ‘levels’ system
  • utilising data on the 4 harms as part of any assessment of the risks associated with Covid 19, albeit that NHS capacity/ hospitalisation was key to this
  • what analysts expect to happen (in terms of modelling) when people go back into school/education based on the current prevalence of the virus
  • action: Audrey MacDougall offered to present more detail on this at the next meeting

Preparation for the academic year – Beyond Level 0 – Nicolas White, ALS Covid Recovery

What plans are currently in place, good practice examples and what you expect to see happening?

  • measures minimising risk of infection/illness
  • outbreak management arrangements/plans
  • measures to minimise disruption to students/staff

Discussion covered the following points:

  • that guidance on face masks for the sector may make the student experience (in a learning setting) feel different, and is more cautious than the rest of society. Action: SG officials to provide more detail
  • EAG advice that face coverings will help the sector ensure students and staff, who are more vulnerable, and clinically at risk, are protected
  • recent UCU survey that showed strong support from staff for use of face coverings indoors (teaching spaces, libraries etc), and the need for enhanced ventilation measures
  • the importance of collective responsibility and being respectful to everyone else is an important message for institutions to communicate
  • a reminder that College classes have already started and are taking a very cautious approach and the blended learning approach continues
  • reassurance from institutions that they are going beyond the baseline measures and are taking a very cautious and agile approach to learning practices
  • the issue of ventilation and associated use of CO2 monitors is being addressed by institutions, albeit that concerns on deployment still persist
  • staff and students want to be safe but they also really want certainty in terms of appropriate guidance and more/clear public messaging from the government
  • changing expectations, particularly where students want to get back on campus to make up on any loss of learning in the last year, and support their mental health
  • the more general need for institutional management teams to continue engaging with health and safety colleagues in order to manage the safe return to in-person learning
  • to support compliance, messaging (inc. the state of the pandemic) needs to be simple and repeated often so that people understand it
  • better communication of Government funding and support to students where there self-isolation incurs a loss of earnings
  • consistent support for home working longer-term and for adequate levels of support to deliver a mix of learning
  • how outbreak management is expected to operate across institutions, and within student accommodation in particular
  • concerns at the potential for high occupancy rates in student accommodation and how this will play out
  • ability of institutions to pivot to online learning if necessary?

Guidance Update – Level 0 – Keith Fernie, ALS Covid Recovery

Thanked members for their input.

Guidance will go online within the CRG web-page as an annex to minutes?

AOB and end of meeting

The chair brought the meeting to a close.

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