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School closures 'vital' in fight against Covid-19


By Alan Beresford

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WITH Scottish schools now closed due to the latest full lockdown, the chairwoman of Moray's education committee has moved to reassure parents.

With Covid infection rates continuing to rise against a backdrop of an NHS under increasing pressure, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last Monday in a specially reconvened Scottish Parliament that further tighter lockdown measures – similar to those brought in last March – were being put into place.

As part of this, both primary and secondary schools will remain closed, along with nurseries, until the end of January at the earliest, with the situation being reviewed in the middle of this month.

Online learning got under way on Monday.

Ms Sturgeon said the spread of the new variant coronavirus among children was one of the factors in closing schools for the whole of January, except for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.

The chairwoman of the council's children and young people's services committee, Buckie SNP councillor Sonya Warren, was keen to reassure parents and carers as the uncertain times continue.

However, she was upbeat about the longer term prospects.

She said: "I've always said that ensuring the safety of pupils and staff was the primary goal and am therefore glad to see these measures have been put in place to help achieve just that objective.

"This has become even more vital given that there is now a new strain of the virus which is not only more communicable but spreads among children, too.

"Hopefully the hubs set up during the phase 1 lockdown will be able to accommodate the children of most of our key workers allowing them to continue in their essential roles.

"School closures and more restrictions on our lives are the last things anyone wants after nine hard months of sacrifices, but we have to keep people safe, protect the vulnerable and prevent our NHS being overwhelmed.

"The vaccines are the light at the end of the tunnel, though but at the moment it's a race between getting enough people vaccinated and the virus getting out out of control."

The leader of the Conservative group on Moray Council, Councillor Tim Eagle (Buckie) said he understood how difficult the new measures would be for many people but reiterated how vital they were for public health.

He continued: "The last thing I want to see is schools closed again but I recognise that the health of our communities is of vital importance.

"This lockdown is different in that we have a vaccine being rolled out and I like many will be hoping that goes smoothly.

"With three primary school-aged children myself to help with learning at home I know it can be very difficult for parents to keep on top of their own workload as well as helping their children. The education department at Moray Council along with teachers will I am sure be doing all they can to help make this as smooth as possible and I will be asking questions over the next few days on this.

"Education is vital and so is the mental and physical health of our young people so I hope as soon as possible we will see our young people back in school again."

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