Attendees and apologies
- Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills (Chair)
- Councillor Stephen McCabe, Children and Young People spokesperson, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) (co-Chair)
- Sam Anson, Deputy Director, COVID Education Strategy and Recovery, Scottish Government
- Ollie Bray, Education Scotland
- Jane Brumpton, Chief Executive, Early Years Scotland
- Laura Caven, CoSLA
- Chelsey Clay, Scottish Youth Parliament
- Craig Clement, Education Scotland
- Greg Dempster, Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS)
- Larry Flanagan, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
- Sophie Reid MSYP, Scottish Youth Parliament
- Clare Hicks, Director for Education Reform, SG
- Graeme Logan, Director for Learning, Scottish Government
- Janie McManus, Education Scotland
- Jane Moffat, Strategy, GIRFEC & The Promise Division, SG
- Eleanor Passmore, Deputy Director, Early Learning & Childcare, SG
- Fiona Robertson, SQA
- Janet Stewart, UNISON
- Victoria Smith, GTCS
- Diane Stockton, Public Health Scotland
- Matthew Sweeney, CoSLA
- Jim Thewliss, General Secretary, School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
- Grace Vickers, SOLACE
- Sheena Devlin,
- Margaret Wilson, National Parent Forum Scotland
- Pauline Stephen, (Victoria Smith attending for GTCS)
- Douglas Hutchison, (Sheena Devlin to represent ADES)
- Kay Sillars, (Janet Stewart attending for UNISON)
- Liam Fowley
Items and actions
Welcome and introduction
The Cabinet Secretary and Councillor McCabe welcomed members to the meeting and noted that today’s meeting presented a good opportunity to examine the data and readout from the Advisory Sub-Group. Councillor McCabe further noted that there appear to be positive aspects to the data, but caution is still warranted.
Minutes of previous meeting
Minutes of the last meeting were agreed.
There is a decline in positive cases among 5 to 11 year olds, along with a slight increase among 18 to 19 year olds.
Hospital admissions were coming down in line with decreasing case numbers across all age groups.
It was queried how many infections are known to be reinfections. Whilst investigation into this is ongoing, at present testing suggests about 10% of Omicron variant infections are reinfections.
No written feedback.
Feedback from Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues
Linda Bauld (as Chair of the Advisory Sub-Group) described the sub-group consideration of the wider harms of the pandemic on children and young people. The sub-group advised that the current conditions indicated that the requirement for face coverings in classrooms could be removed on 28 February, but the requirement for adults and secondary pupils to wear face coverings when in communal areas or moving around the building should remain, in line with equivalent guidance for wider society. It was also recommended by the sub-group that those who choose to continue to wear masks should be fully supported in doing so. Other mitigation measures will be considered again on 8 March.
Restrictions relating to assemblies and transition visits (for those learners who would be starting primary or secondary in August 2022) should also be eased on 28 February. The sub-group noted that asymptomatic testing and good hand hygiene remain an important part of the response to COVID-19 at this time and had agreed to look again at the remaining mitigations at their next meeting.
The need for effective communications that assures the public of the scientific and evidentiary backing of the decisions reached by the Sub-Group and CERG was reiterated.
Any other business
It was suggested that the next COVID-19 Education Recovery Group (CERG) meeting focus on a deep dive on baseline measures, and be held at official-level rather than with politicians.
Cabinet Secretary and Councillor McCabe agreed and asked members to consider the immediate priorities for CERG and the point at which it should cease to meet.
24 February, which will be attended by officials only to discuss the next iteration of the guidance.
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