As the preparations go on for the almost complete shutdown of schools throughout the Islands, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar says it is receiving a significant number of enquiries relating to criteria for key workers.

In a statement – unusually – on a Saturday (12.27 March 21) the council says:

In order to assist you to determine whether you are a key worker or not, we would reinforce the following points:

You should be:

  • a key member of staff i.e. delivering direct care to patients/clients in an NHS or social care setting (hospital, NHS practices, care home or homecare). This also includes ancillary support staff, social workers, allied health professionals, cleaners, porters and catering staff.
  • a member of school staff (e.g. teacher, support worker, catering staff, janitorial or administration)
  • providing direct emergency service provision (e.g. fire, ambulance, police, coastguard)
  • a worker in the utilities sector (e.g. electricity, water supplies and sewerage, gas)
  • a worker in the transport sector (ferry, planes, hauliers, deliveries of food, buses)
  • a worker in food and/or retail distribution (e.g. butcher, chemist, supermarket worker, small shops providing food)

For those workers listed above, their children should only attend school in the following circumstances:

  • When they have no appropriate alternative childcare available to them
  • On a day when they would normally be working (i.e. Children only attend school when you are at work)

Education, like other services, is working with a reduced level of staff. Therefore, other support staff, in relation to the above criteria - such as admin, HR functions and finance - should have approval of line management and their names provided to the Education department (through their own service) from Monday onwards.

Vacancies and absences in critical care services have already created a situation where we  may have to redeploy staff to support frontline workers.

Many of our teaching staff have volunteered to work across other services and it is therefore important that the pupils attending at our schools are those of key workers only.  They will be attending their normal school establishments.

Apart from children of key workers, there will be cases where it has been identified by Comhairle officers that a child is considered to be vulnerable, based on the advice from Scottish Government, that child will be able to attend school. Comhairle staff have been in contact with those who are eligible and, if you have not had contact from us, you should not attend.  If you feel that you are eligible but have not been contacted, please contact the Education, Skills & Children’s Services Department on Monday.

And S4-6 pupils have the option to attend to complete outstanding coursework, if they need to do so. Any such arrangements have been discussed and intimated to pupils before they left school yesterday.  Comhairle nan Eilean Siar emphasise that this is an option…pupils are not required to attend.

More details here: https://www.welovestornoway.com/index.php/articles-auto/16354-schools-still-open-for-some-pupils