HERMITAGE Academy’s head teacher has asked pupils and parents to “remember how much we care about you” as the school term officially ends for summer.

In a video message linked via the school’s website, Robert Williamson said the end of the 2019/20 academic year was “the strangest term I’ve ever known.”

The school has been closed since Friday, March 20 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the national exam diet cancelled.

The Scottish Government announced this week that its aim is for schools to fully reopen for the new term during the week commencing Monday, August 10.

Mr Williamson also used the video to parents address concerns about a number of issues, including the school timetable and transport arrangements.

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He said: “We will be looking after your young people, we will be keeping you informed, and we will be making sure this is a smooth transition back to normality for all of our young people –  a smooth transition from primary to secondary for our new S1, and a smooth transition for all those young people with some more challenges than the rest.

“We will make sure that support is in place at all stages.

“Timetables, of course, have been delayed – we had our timetables at a considerably advanced stage, and we were then told of course to put our alternative model, which effectively is working in the larger blocks of learning.

“It now looks, after the announcement from the depute first minister, as if we will be coming in to our normal timetable.

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“There are some final decisions to be made on that – queries, conversations with principal teachers, which will be more difficult over the summer.

“However, we are very confident that we can revert to our initial timetable, and that any conversations that have to take place will take place in time for the young people to have their timetables."

Mr Williamson said the school's senior staff were considering a 'soft' first week back, with an in-service day on Tuesday, August 11, S1 pupils only attending on August 12, and the whole school attending from Thursday, August 13 onwards – but he promised to inform parents "in plenty of time" if those plans are changed.

He added: "We are certainly hoping to have time to talk to our young people, to assess their mental and physical health, to assess their wellbeing holistically and for them to have a conversation with all those positive staff who can support them and put their minds at ease.”

Issues around school transport, social distancing on board buses and trains, and PPE on school buses, are still being investigated, while Mr Williamson said the school would be "ready to go for distancing" within the building – even though the current indications from government are that physical distancing will not be enforced – and that janitorial staff at the Academy would be kept informed of planned measures during the summer.

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Concluding the video, which is more than 10 minutes long, Mr Williamson told parents: “Thank you very much for your patience during this – please continue to be patient with your young people, please continue to empathise with the stresses they are going through amidst your own strife and please remember that you can always get in touch with the school.

“I will be checking emails over the summer after taking a brief break, and I will be making sure that we get answers out to you if there are any real queries that you think will cause some difficulties for you.

“But it’s ‘stay calm and carry on’ in a slightly different situation.

“All the best for the summer: please look after yourselves and your family, remember how much we care about you, and remember we will be back very soon and contact is always available."

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