Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Wednesday) welcomed an assurance from the Education Secretary that he would not rule out the possibility of considering local circumstances when deciding whether to reopen schools.
During a session of the Scottish Parliament’s Education Committee, Mr Swinney said that he “would give consideration to whether there could be variation deployed on that basis (individual community decisions)” when asked by Shetland’s MSP, Beatrice Wishart, if a local approach to reopening schools was under consideration.
Commenting on the exchange, Mr McArthur said:
“Remote learning has been a significant challenge for young people and parents everywhere. However, it’s been particularly difficult for those in the islands given broadband constraints and the fact that more parents are expected to work since we’re in a level three area.
“While everyone is clearly adapting and doing the best they can, the obvious benefits to young people of being at school, both in terms of their learning and social interactions, cannot be overstated. Indeed, in her statement to parliament this week, the First insisted the government would use ‘every inch of headroom’ available to them to get children back to school safely.
“On that basis, it seems logical to look seriously at the possibility of applying a more localised approach to the reopening of schools.
“I appreciate that there will be many factors to be taken into account, but I welcome the Education Secretary’s recognition of the case for a more ‘tailored’ approach, where this can be done safely. I know that discussions with the island authorities are taking place and look forward to seeing what emerges from those discussions over the next week or two.”