East Lothian change school holidays to avoid potential Covid case clash with Christmas

Tuesday August 24th 2021


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Christmas will come early for pupils in East Lothian this year after term dates were changed to avoid any Covid case clash with Christmas Day.

East Lothian Council has agreed to close schools on Friday, December 17 – a week ahead of the original term end date of December 23.

However it means youngsters will be back at their desks earlier than expected with a new restart date of Wednesday January 5, instead of January 10.

A report to councillors said the change in festive holidays would ensure any Covid cases reported as youngsters head home would not bring Christmas Day work for teachers or school staff.

It said: “The Health Protection Team require us to trace and contact all those who have been in close contact with the positive case up to 48 hrs prior to the onset of symptoms. With this in mind, and with schools currently operating until Thursday 23 December, we then face a potential issue of being notified of a positive case on Christmas Day.

“This would then require access to management information systems within the central department as well as in schools together with the need to contact staff in order to carry out tracing.

“A change to the term date to enable schools to close on Friday, December 17, will allow any positive cases arising up to and including Christmas Eve to be responded to directly by central Education officers during the working day and whilst there is access to the relevant management information systems.

“This change further ensures that any person who may become COVID-19 symptomatic on Christmas Day will not have been in contact with anyone in a school setting in the preceding 48 hrs and therefore will reduce the need to undertake tracing and notification of any schools’ staff.”

The virtual meeting of councillors agreed to approve the change to the festive holiday dates and was told it would also bring East Lothian schools in line with neighbouring schools in Edinburgh.

It also agreed to move the end of the full year back a day to Friday, July 1, to “adhere to the requirement of 190 school days for pupils and 195 days for teaching staff” over the full 2021/22 term.

Update 18:08

Midlothian View asked Midlothian Council if they were considering a similar holiday change. A council spokesperson said:

“We are consulting trade unions, staff and parents. We are taking proposed dates to the Midlothian Negotiating Committee of Teachers (MNCT) before consulting more widely.”

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