Coronavirus (COVID 19): Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues minutes: 4 August 2020

Minutes from the seventh meeting of the COVID-19 Advisory Group held on Tuesday 4 August 2020.

Items and actions

1. The sub-group discussed school trips which included an overnight stay away from the household. The discussion clarified that the advice was for children and young people spending a night away from their home address while on a school trip, and noted the increased risk of creating chains of transmission involved in this activity. It was agreed that, at this time, the risks were too high to recommend that school trips including an overnight stay away from home should be considered by schools.

2. The sub-group considered a number of aspects related to children participating in physical education, music (singing and (wind) instruments), drama and school assemblies when they return to school. Previous advice from the sub-group recommended an incremental introduction to these curricular areas. Matters discussed included: the mental and physical benefits to children and young people, the mitigations which could be put in place including the use outdoor spaces, and the option of virtual learning and teaching which would reduce risks. The risks of carrying out such activities in unventilated, indoor areas were also noted. It was agreed that the introduction of these activities indoors should align with wider decisions in Scotland’s route map. Suggested mitigations may ensure continuing subject interest and access.  

3. The sub-group considered the return of visiting staff to schools and of private tutors to children’s homes. It was recognised that there are occasions in which staff may have to visit schools, but it was agreed that this should be kept to an absolute minimum particularly at the initial stages of the return to school. The sub-group recommended that private tutors should either work remotely using a digital solution or with students outdoors with appropriate physical distancing.

4. The sub-group reviewed progress with preparations for monitoring and surveillance measures in schools including considering further details for enhanced surveillance. Matters discussed included the importance of: sample size and parameters, clarity of questions to be addressed by enhanced surveillance, comparing the data gathered in schools with that in the wider community, and the importance of reassurance and communication with school staff and the general public. It was agreed that the message of low prevalence rates in Scotland compared with other countries was key.

5. The sub-group reviewed its progress and possible future role, recognising the need to continue to provide advice and monitoring as schools and ELC settings re-open.   


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