Wick High School re-opening guidance August 2020

We are looking forward to welcoming your child back to full time learning. It is important that children and young people are able to see their friends and have social contact and benefit from the learning, care and support that schools provide. The need to reconnect to normal patterns and routines in children’s lives will be important and reassuring to them.

The following procedures have been developed to make this return to school as safe as possible for all pupils and staff taking account of Scottish Government guidelines. Our return to school in August will not therefore be a return entirely to ‘normality’. We must remain vigilant and continue to manage the risks of COVID-19 by working together to ensure that all understand the advice and follow it at all times.

The school has a full risk assessment in place that covers all aspects of school life and that has been shared with all staff. This will be available on the school website. All risk assessments will be reviewed regularly and as circumstances change.

This document is to ensure that you as parents understand what measures are being put in place, and can support us is helping to make them work

We understand that this is a lengthy document but it contains vital information for you and your child.

Please take particular note of the phased return to school for individual year groups, including plans for an S1 transition day, detailed below.

Returning to school

All Highland school aged pupils will be expected to attend school, unless they are medically vulnerable in which case they should follow medical advice. There will be no online provision.

According to the Scottish Government guidelines the school will implement a phased return with all pupils in school full-time by 18 August at the latest. A phased return will allow us to ensure that each cohort of pupils fully understands the additional procedures in order to keep the school as safe as possible and that also, each pupil has had access to initial support where required. 

Wednesday 12th August – New S1 pupils in school for their induction day. Pupils will be directed as they arrive at the school.

Thursday 13th August – Introducing Senior Phase pupils (S4/5/6) plus S1

Friday 14th August – Introducing S2 and S3 plus S1 and Senior Phase pupils (S4/5/6)

Monday 17th August – All pupils in school following their full timetables.

All pupils will have these new practices explained carefully through extended registration to ensure that everyone knows and understands the ways in which we must change our behaviour to keep everyone safe from the risk of infection.

New timetables will be issued during that time.

Good hygiene practices

It will be the responsibility of every individual in the school to observe good hygiene practice to minimise the risk of infection. There will be appropriate signage around the school to support the measures in place.

Pupils and staff should avoid touching their faces including mouth, eyes and nose.

Pupils and staff must use a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze, and then put tissues straight into the bin.

Hand sanitisers will be available at all entry/exit points to the school and all staff and pupils should use these at the start and end of each day and at the start and end of break and lunch time should they leave the building. Pupils may carry their own sanitiser also.

Adequately stocked handwashing facilities will be available in all toilets. Pupils will be directed to wash hands for 20 seconds and dry thoroughly after using the toilet. Pupils should not gather in the toilet for social reasons.

School dress code should be worn as normal.

An enhanced environmental cleaning regime is in place which ensures regular (at least twice daily) cleaning of commonly touched objects and surfaces (e.g. desks, handles, dining tables, shared technology surfaces etc.).  

Doors (other than fire doors) will be wedged open, where appropriate, to reduce touchpoints.

Classrooms have been ‘decluttered’ to minimise the opportunities for surfaces and objects being touched.

The scientific advice is that physical distancing between young people in secondary schools is not required to ensure a safe return to schools. As a precautionary approach however, distancing will be encouraged between pupils, particularly indoors – and the school will be encouraging young people not to crowd together or touch their peers. The two groups S1/2/3 and S4/5/6 will be kept in separate areas at lunch time as far as is feasible. Junior school downstairs and Seniors upstairs (including block D and E)

There should be no social physical contact (hand to hand greeting/hugs) between pupils.

Classroom practices

At the start of lessons pupils should not line up outside classrooms as previously, but move straight into the class and go immediately to their own seat, not touching other desks or surfaces en-route.

Pupils will wash their hands when in classrooms with sinks at least once during each lesson and sanitise hands on entering and leaving every classroom without sink. Sanitising stations will be set up at class entrance.

Pupils will wipe down their own desk/chair/surfaces before leaving a classroom. Equipment to do this will be provided in every classroom. Teachers to dispense the sanitising liquid and also wipe door handles.

Two metre physical distancing between staff members and between staff and pupils should be maintained. Where staff cannot keep 2m distance and are interacting face-to-face for a sustained period (about 15 minutes or more), face coverings may be worn. Staff will mainly teach from the front of the classroom to maintain the 2 metre distance from pupils that is advisable.

Cleaning regimes will be in place for specialist equipment in practical subjects.

Separate Risk Assessments are in place for the Enhanced Provision Base and for pupils with ASN who require daily support.

It is crucial that students come to school fully equipped and ready to learn. As it is no longer practical to ask to borrow equipment from friends or members of staff if an item is forgotten, students should bring to school pens, pencils, eraser, ruler and a fully charged Chromebook. Lending or sharing of equipment will not be possible.

Pupils should keep bags on the floor and not on their desks or worktops.

Pupils can take books and other resources home, although unnecessary resource sharing including textbooks, will be avoided.

Wherever it is safe to do so, doors and windows will be kept open to increase natural ventilation and also help to reduce contact with door handles. Pupils to wear appropriate clothing to allow for this as jackets to be removed as usual when in class.

Pupils will be seated in classrooms side by side and facing forwards, rather than face to face other than in rooms with fixed desks.

As previously, pupils must always sit in their designated seat in class and should NOT move out of their seat unless they have permission to do so.

Where young people need to move about within the classroom to perform activities this will be organised by the teacher to minimise contact.

Guidance for colleges has been published for those pupils in Senior Phase who attend college on a Friday.


Scientific and medical advice around how activities such as singing or playing wind/brass musical instruments can be managed safely is still being developed. These activities will be avoided during the initial return to schools.

On days where pupils have PE they should attend school in clothes that are suitable for PE but still conform to dress code (ie black or white) to avoid changing. Any pupils who have a problem with suitable clothing for this please contact the school who can help.

In practical subjects, teachers will demonstrate from the front of the class to avoid clusters of pupils close together.

After school and lunchtime clubs

These are important for wider health and development of children and will resume when possible to make arrangements to do this according to the guidelines. Staff will resume these as and when they feel able and comfortable to do this.

Moving around the school

Passing briefly in the corridor or playground is considered low risk, but the school will implement a one-way system around the school that maximises the use of external routes to minimise congestion.

Pupils and staff will follow this new one-way system around school at all times unless in the event of a fire where they should leave the building by the designated (nearest) exit.

Arrangements for pupils gathering on the playing grounds for Fire Evacuation will be amended to keep pupils distanced as far as possible.

Pupils should avoid unnecessary touching of stair rails, walls and door handles when moving between classes.

The school will not be holding Year Group assemblies and other types of large group gatherings.

Pupils can go offsite for lunch. If they do so they must sanitise hands on entering and leaving the school and follow the rules in place for wider society, for example wearing a face covering when entering a shop. If pupils go home for lunch they should wash their hands on entering, and again on leaving, their homes.

Please note that Wick Co-op notified us that they will not allow pupils in their store at lunch time.

Lunch and break arrangements

The canteen will initially be offering ‘Grab and Go’ meals that also include a hot option. Menus will be posted daily and pupils will pre-order by filling in slips in Registration.

Break times to be staggered by year group across period 2 and normal break time as follows:

S1 Break (coming out of p2 class) from 9.40am – 10.00am

S2 Break (coming out of p2 class) from 10.00am – 10.15am

S3 Break (coming out of p2 class) from 10.15am – 10.30am

S4/5/6 Break at usual time from 10.30am – 10.45am

Lunch times to be staggered as follows:

S1/2/3 will have lunch in period 5 (12.25pm – 1.15pm) and then have p5 lesson during lunchtime;

S4/5/6 will have lunch in usual time (1.15pm – 1.55pm).

These arrangements allow BGE and Senior Phase pupils to be kept in separated groups.

Pupils or staff must not share drinks bottles, food, cutlery or plates and cups etc.

Free school meals are available for all those eligible – you can check eligibility (for a clothing grant also) and apply online for these here: https://www.highland.gov.uk/info/899/schools_-_grants_and_benefits/10/free_school_meals_and_assistance_with_clothing

Please remember that you must reapply each year for Free School Meals.

(If you are experiencing any problems with applying online please email welfare.support@highland.gov.uk with your full name, national insurance number and the child’s name and date of birth at or phone 0800 090 1004. Calls are free from landline and mobile phones. You can also contact the school for assistance.)

Pupils will be able to top up their accounts in school but again, to avoid congestion in these areas, we would strongly advise you to top up online. However please note that it takes a day or two for money topped up online to appear on account. Please see the Highland Council school meals web pages, or email SchoolMeals.OnlinePayments@highland.gov.uk.

Pupils are very much encouraged to bring their own refillable water bottle to school. Water fountains can be used for filling bottles ONLY, not for drinking from, and hand sanitiser should be used before filling a bottle.

Pupils should sanitise hands before using the vending machines.

Access to Office

Access to school office is by staff only; pupils should not be out of class at any time apart from toilet access or in emergency. Staff should be considerate of the 2m distancing while in the Office.

Transport Drop off/collection

Transport providers have carried out risk assessments to ensure infection control measures are in place for pupils to return in a safe manner.

Parents can drop off pupils by car as previously using the designated drop off area.

All passengers should sanitise their hands as they exit the school building prior to boarding.

Government guidance currently states that pupils are not required to wear face coverings while on dedicated school transport. However, if they travel to school by public transport, it is mandatory to wear a face covering.

Face coverings should be provided by parents/carers.

Pupils should report to their registration class from 8.35am onwards, when they enter the school, sanitising their hands on entry. Registration will start at 8:40am as normal.

Car-sharing with children and young people of other households is discouraged.

Consumption and sharing of food on school transport will not be allowed.

If a pupil travels by taxi, they should follow the advice of the driver, including sitting in the back-left hand seat of the car when travelling alone.

At the end of the day Senior pupils will be released from classes at 3:30pm to allow less congestion leaving the building. This will be indicated by an additional bell.

Visitors to school

Parents or other adults should not enter school buildings unless by appointment and where a virtual meeting or phone call is not possible.

Adult visitors to schools will be strictly limited only to those that are necessary to support children and young people or the running of the school.

Attendance and visitor records will be carefully maintained to facilitate identification of dates/times for all individuals who have been in school. The receptionist to sign in any visitors.

PPE and other protective barrier measures

Children are not required to wear face coverings in the school environment. Pupils may however find that some school staff will be wearing a mask for a number of reasons e.g. if it is not possible for them to maintain 2m distance.

Anyone (whether pupil or staff) wishing to wear a face covering in school can do so. Evidence suggests that face coverings do not provide significant protection for the wearer, rather they primarily reduce the risk of transmission and help suppress the virus.

No PPE is required when undertaking routine educational activities inclassroom or school settings. Where the need for PPE has been identified (eg for treating First Aid issues) it will be readily available and provided.

Risk assessments for children and young people with more complex needs or for those in the Enhanced provision base are in place and may include the utilisation of PPE.

Suspected COVID-19

The whole school community should be vigilant for the symptoms of COVID-19. The most common symptoms are:

  • New continuous cough;
  • fever/high temperature;
  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia).

It is essential that people do not attend school if symptomatic, but instead self-isolate (along with their household) and follow guidance on NHS Inform and from Test and Protect.

As a parent it is your responsibility to ensure your child is not presenting any COVID symptoms before attending school.

All children, young people and staff must inform a member of staff if they feel unwell with symptoms of COVID-19.

If a child develops symptoms of the coronavirus during the school day, they will be kept in an isolated environment until they can be collected and taken home. A responsible adult will be there to support an affected pupil. They should wear a facemask for this period and staff assisting them will have full PPE.

If the affected pupil has mild symptoms, and is over the age of 16, they should go home as soon as they notice symptoms and follow the guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection including testing and self-isolation.

They should then self-isolate for 10 days and book a test.

Using the “test, trace, isolate, support strategy” a test will be available to all pupils and staff necessary, and the results will be delivered rapidly.

Positive testing for COVID-19

Where the child or staff member tests positive, the school will be advised by the Test & Protect Contact Tracing Team about who else within the school should be asked to self- isolate.

The other household members of that wider group do not need to self-isolate unless the child or staff member they live with subsequently develops symptoms.

Where the child or staff member tests negative they can return to their setting and the fellow household members can end their self-isolation.

Questions about Health Protection or Test & Protect can be sent to the Health Protection Team hpt.highland@nhs.net or the Test & Protect Team high-uhb.covid-19contacttracing@nhs.net

Special considerations for certain groups

Children, young people and staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable (shielding) will be able to return to school in August, unless given advice from a GP or healthcare provider not to, and can follow the same guidance as the rest of Scotland.

Parents/carers may wish to have a discussion with their child’s healthcare team if they are unsure or have queries about returning to school because of their health condition.

Support for children and young people with Additional Support Needs

Where there is a need for staff to work in close proximity with children and young people staff should wear a face covering or PPE as appropriate, and regularly wash their hands before and after contact.

Individual risk assessment processes are in place to support pupils with more complex needs.

Senior phase/SQA National Qualification Courses

Scottish Government guidance states that further details will be provided before schools return on 11 August, regarding the approach for the assessment of national qualifications for the 2020/21 session.

Supporting the wellbeing of pupils

Balancing efforts to address lost learning with children and young people’s social and emotional needs will be a priority.

The psychological impact of the outbreak is likely to have had social, emotional and developmental effects on some children and young people. Many pupils may experience anxiety about the transition from home to returning to school but also many of them will have enjoyed the experience of spending more time at home. Some may need additional time and support to re-adjust to the school environment. Similarly, school staff have been facing significant pressure; support for their mental health and wellbeing is essential both for them and for the social and emotional wellbeing of their pupils.

All staff including the school’s Guidance team, Youth Work team, CSWs, Learning Support Team, Counselling Services, Educational Psychology services and school nurse will be working to support pupils in their return to school.

First aid in school

Specific guidance has been developed and published for first responders (COVID-19: guidance for first responders) who, as part of their normal roles, provide immediate assistance requiring close contact until further medical assistance arrives. This guidance sets out clearly what a first responder is required to do if they come into close contact with someone as part of their first responder duties. It covers the use of PPE and CPR.