It is clear from the events of winter 2021, with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant and the urgent response it has demanded, that the public health emergency posed by the pandemic is not over. During the sessions, several witnesses stated that, even before the emergence of Omicron, many services had not been able to return to pre-pandemic levels. This was often owing to a lack of capacity and resilience within their respective systems. The Scottish Government has stated that keeping schools open is one of its highest priorities. The experience of the emergence of the Delta variant in late 2020 clearly had a significant impact upon schools. The Committee has previously considered the operation of the Alternative Certification Model in 2021. There were a number of lessons highlighted in evidence to the Committee, to be derived from that experience. These included the mental health impacts on young people and the impact on teacher workload. The 2021 ACM experience also highlighted the critical importance of scenario-planning. Given the current, rapidly evolving, situation, the Committee seeks further information on how the Scottish Government has updated its contingency plans as a result of the Omicron variant. The Committee also requests an update regarding how the Scottish Government and Education Scotland are monitoring contingency planning at local authority level. The Committee would also welcome an update on what scenario-planning the Scottish Government is undertaking with regard to the emergence of further Covid-19 variants in order to ensure the continuity of education and services.
Mitigations in schools are not nearly good enough. There must be a focus on improving ventilation in schools and classrooms before next winter. Children and teachers cannot be learning in freezing temperatures with coats and hats on. Invest in technology and make schools safe.
We have all been rocked by the emergence and impact of COVID-19. Nobody saw it coming and we were not prepared for an airborne virus that could bring the world to a stop. We need much more detailed contingency planning for how to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks moving forward but also recognise that we now live under the precarious threat of this type of situation. We must be ready and react better in the future.
Further long term investment is needed for the government funded school counselling programme with targeted money available for those with additional needs...not all children need to go to CAMHs when they are struggling and can be seen by qualified specialist CYP counsellors, but we need more of them.
Even if it is getting better there is still more variants and anxiety. They need to spend money on health services especially mental health.
I totally agree. Support and planning will be essential for many years to come. Even if coronavirus was totally eradicated tomorrow the gaps in learning, impact on mental health and the resilience of young people will take years to recover. In the future we will look back and consider how the 'children of the pandemic' were supported. This support must follow young people until they leave school and move onto a Positive Destination and even then we will see the impact and the need for support.
My personal and professional experience of the mental health impacts of children and young people is awful. It is hard to believe that we live in such a rich country yet our children have been left to suffer alongside their families for so long without the help and support they need. CAMHS sadly is unfit for purpose now, we need far more investment in child mental health services and timeframes need to be removed for supporting young people
We need to get on with life and stop disrupting our young people’s education.
This will not go away and we need to learn to live with it in a normal way. It is also one thing to focus on schools being open but when it does not meet the needs of the pupils, is running on skeleton staff with no asn support in addition, it still has a detrimental effect on pupils. There is no SQA acknowledgement of those pupils who have dealt with that all year. Our contact teaching time halved for senior pupils even before staff absence
My daughters mental health is deteriorating, no one in school knows how to support her. The education authority think that adaptations are adequate, yet she is unable to access school. We need more smaller neurodiverse friendly schools that offer a full range of education opportunities
More needs to be done to mitigate spread in schools. My daughter is on her second covid infection this year (first in january), we can't have this ongoing cycle or reinfection and the huge disruption and anxiety this causes for young people and their families. It's a kick in the teeth to young people who have already sacrificed so much and done what was asked of them to not even do the bare minimum to improve ventilation and infection control in schools.
Covid isn’t going anywhere but the solution is not to pretend that we can live life as we did pre-pandemic. To reduce teacher & pupil absence and ensure long-term health of all, we need focus on ventilation & ‘clean air’ in schools ie HEPA filters/mechanical ventilation. We need this to ensure future health or, with high Covid numbers and therefore high along Covid and/or later development of health issues (heart issues etc), the burden on the NHS will increase too.
Remote and online learning must be phased out completely and children returned to normal. Schools should never be allowed to close again. Infections in schools are a reflection of the community, not a driving force, and should be treated as such.
My daughter has waited 2 YEARS for an appointment at CAMHS. This is totally unacceptable. She has missed out on quality education and support because we have been unable to get an appointment let alone a diagnosis. Support is needed for children with ASN and their families. My son has waited over 2 years for assessment for ASD and ADHD with no support or guidance.
Embrace (and invest more in) outdoor learning (which means training as well as the actual spaces).
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