Childcare in Orkney opened yesterday, 7th of January, for vulnerable children and those of key workers.
In the next few days parents will be contacted about the provision of online learning.
Orkney council leader, James Stockan, is again making the case for schools in the islands to open for face to face learning before the Scottish Government’s set date of 1st of February.
Covid cases whilst low in Orkney are still occurring with 2 more being recorded on Wednesday. There is also a much more infectious variant of the virus now spreading northwards.
James Stockan described the decision by the Scottish Government to have a return date for face to face learning as 1st of February as “disappointing” and said that it “creates real difficulties for us and for our community.”
He went on to say:
“Many parents will require childcare if they are to continue working in the jobs our economy depends upon – and which are critically important to many local businesses and services.
“The Government has directed us to provide childcare in our schools for the children of key workers and for vulnerable children.
“Large numbers of Orkney’s children will require this in addition to those who received childcare at our ‘hubs’ during the lockdown last year – and we have received many applications already.
“This creates a huge logistical difficulty for teaching staff, who will need to provide classroom learning for those pupils – while simultaneously delivering remote education for the remaining children and young people who will be learning from home.
“Given the additional difficulty posed by poor or no connectivity in many parts of Orkney – preventing online learning – it makes perfect sense to allow all of our pupils to return to school-based, face-to-face learning as soon as possible as long as our current Covid situation remains.
“We will continue to make the case for this to the Government – before and during the review of current arrangements Ministers have promised in mid-January. If circumstances change, we will do all we can to help minimise transmission of the virus in our community.”
Schools provide educational materials for pupils who cannot (for whatever reason) access online learning or who respond better to using physical materials. Education is the responsibility of local councils. The Scottish Government provided digital devices in recognition that some children and students will not have access to those. There is an issue over connectivity in many parts of Orkney, as there is still in other parts of Scotland. The provision of education packs, which teachers have prepared helps address this issue to some point.
Thursday saw the dreadful statistic that 78 new deaths were recorded in Scotland. The decision to put education for most children and students online was because of the highly infectious nature of the new variant of Covid.
On the 7th of January the stats for Scotland were:
- 2,649 new cases of COVID-19 reported
- 26,966 new tests for COVID-19 that reported results – 11.3% of these were positive
- 78 new reported deaths of people who have tested positive
- 100 people are in intensive care with recently confirmed COVID-19
- 1,467 people are in hospital with recently confirmed COVID-19
Those who can work from home are being asked to do so and in mainland Scotland people are being advised to Stay at Home for all but essential purposes. It is also illegal to travel in or out of Scotland for all but essential purposes. This also applies to travel from one local authority area to another.
There are now two vaccines being used in Scotland and whilst the programme of vaccination of the first dose goes ahead this will continue into the summer – as supply of the vaccine permits.
The total number of deaths in Scotland, up to Sunday 3rd of January, where Covid is mentioned on the death certificate has reached 6,686.
183 of these were registered last week.
Of those 183 deaths, 111 occurred in hospitals, 63 were in care homes, and 9 at home or in another non-institutional setting.
In her statement on 7th of January the FM of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon said:
“The bottom line here – and I need to be really blunt about this – is that for this lockdown to be as effective as we need it to be, we must radically reduce the number of interactions we are having. That means reducing to a minimum the reasons people are required to leave their home.”
And she continued:
“Each of us needs to play our part in slowing down the spread of the virus – and reducing the number of people who get infected – while the vaccination programme starts to have an impact.
” Our NHS is coping but as you saw from the statistics I reported earlier on, it is under severe and increasing pressure. Every single person who gets infected by this virus is somebody who might need hospital care in future. So the more all of us stay at home and reduce the opportunities for the virus to spread, the more all of us give the NHS hope.
“I strongly suspect that what most front line NHS workers really want from the public right now is for all of us to do what we can to stop the virus spreading.
“So please – I’m asking everybody – heed this message and please help get it across to everyone you know who might not be watching right now.
“Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. This is now just as important as it was last March and I ask everybody to take it just as seriously as all of us did back then.”
NHS Scotland has a free contact tracing app which can be downloaded: Protect Scotland
Reporter: Fiona Grahame