Scottish Daily Mail
Families don’t need any more surprises
THIS has been a tumultuous year for people of all ages – but children are among those who have suffered the most.
The closure of schools back in March led to a chaotic period of what was euphemistically known as ‘blended learning’.
Now we learn ministers are studying plans to extend the festive break for schoolchildren, which could mean the term ending about five days earlier than planned.
And it would be January 11 before they resumed their lessons – another lengthy interruption that would only compound fears about the amount of classroom time lost in 2020.
There are benefits: children would be able to spend more time at home before relatives arrive, taking them out of the school environment in the run-up to Christmas and potentially reducing the risk of transmission of the virus.
And this would also apply to teachers – who would run less risk of receiving a notification on the Test and Protect app over Christmas.
It’s also possible that by closing schools after the expected end of the toughest Covid curbs on December 11 the virus would be further suppressed.
That’s important – it’s likely that family gatherings will increase the R rate, and could provoke a lurch back to full lockdown at the start of next year.
But there are real concerns about the amount of education children have missed this year.
Late-notice changes to holiday dates could cause a childcare headache for thousands of families.
And there would be no special ‘hubs’ to look after the children of key workers, as earlier this year these were staffed by teachers – and this time they would be on holiday.
The only reason we know this idea is being discussed at all is that a memo by council chiefs was leaked to a newspaper.
But wouldn’t it be refreshing if, for once, ministers told us what was going on – rather than relying on leaks?
MSPs should have a say in the debate – after all, its outcome directly affects a large proportion of their constituents.
Whatever is decided, it’s imperative that government provides the clarity children, teachers and parents desperately need.