Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advanced Learning Recovery Group minutes - 5 October 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 5 October 2021.

Items and actions


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

The minutes for the previous meetings on 14 and 21 September 2021 were agreed.

Action: minutes to be published online.


  1. Public Health Context (update): Diane Stockton: Education Recovery and COVID-19 Vaccination Surveillance, Public Health Scotland
  2. COVID-19 modelling and projections: William Wardrop, Senior Operational Researcher, COVID-19 Analysis Division

Taken together, the presentations provided a high level summary on ‘modelling the epidemic’ and an update on the ‘public health context’. In discussion, the following points were covered:

  • the absence of a significant increase in cases following student return is likely due to the high level of vaccine uptake in the general and student populations
  • the potential impact of the upcoming COP 26 Summit on the pandemic in Scotland is one of the current focuses for the modelling team
  • there is not yet any indication of a waning effect of vaccine protection in the student population as has been seen in older populations, but this is being monitored

Ventilation - SG short-life working group – Caroline Leburn, COVID-19 Health Policy Unit

Caroline Leburn, member of the Scottish Government’s Short Life Working Group (SLWG) on ventilation, presented an overview of the group’s work, the impact good ventilation can have on helping to reduce the spread of coronavirus, and what measures could be implemented in the sector to improve ventilation.

In the resultant discussion, the following points were raised:

  • some concerns raised about the lack of comprehensiveness of the Scottish Government guidance on ventilation mitigations for the sector
  • the SLWG are working towards providing more detailed guidance about CO2 monitors as there has been some confusion over best practice in their implementation
  • some concerns raised over the lack of funding provision for implementing ventilation measures across the sector
  • a reminder that learning provider workforces and student representatives should be working together to devise how education should be delivered over the winter period when certain ventilation measures may be more difficult to implement
  • as there is a deficiency in scientific research into what constitutes ‘good ventilation’ during a pandemic with an airborne transmission element, the sector should work towards achieving everyday sufficient safe levels of ventilation as set out in existing guidance
  • interest expressed among some CLD and Trade Union representatives in having a more focused discussion with the Short Life Working Group on Ventilation

Action: a meeting between the Short Life Working Group, the HE/FE sector, CLD representatives, and Trade Union reps to be organised.

Co-determinants of R Presentation – Professor Linda Bauld, chair of the Expert Advisory Group

Professor Bauld, the new Chair of the Expert Advisory Group (EAG), presented the key variables which may determine the impact of the return of students on the pandemic in Scotland.

In the resultant discussion, the following points were raised:

  • going forward, understanding the effect of the indirect health and societal impacts of COVID on students will be crucial. The current work of the EAG has a focus on this
  • reassurance that the key variables presented are relevant for, and should be considered by, all parts of the sector
  • an indication that engagement between the CLD sector and the EAG may be useful, particularly in reference to community based adult learning and youth groups

Action: Professor Bauld to discuss CLD with Professor John Usher of the EAG.

AOB and end of meeting

  • provisions have been put in place to ensure that students vaccinated with an approved vaccine outside Scotland can prove their vaccine status for certification purposes
  • there are no plans to incorporate negative test results as an alternative to double vaccination into the vaccine certification scheme
  • the Chair brought the meeting to a close
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