Renfrewshire Council

Last reviewed: 2.00pm, 6 Aug 2020

Opening schools and nurseries

Updates and information on how our schools and nurseries will open, and how children and young people will return or start nursery or school.

On this page:

Dates and arrangements for return

Safety and hygiene


School transport

Other practical info

Learning and wellbeing

Welcome back!

We are delighted to be able to welcome Renfrewshire's children and young people back to school and nursery this August.

We know the last few months hasn't been easy for pupils or parents - and once again we would like to thank you for your patience, flexibility and understanding during the period children and young people were asked to learn from home.

This year won't be a normal return to school. We hope you understand the past few months have been utterly unprecedented for us and for all our school staff, and we have had to put plans in place while reacting to a regularly-changing situation.

We would stress our single biggest priority has been to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of all pupils and staff and we are following the national guidance developed to achieve that. At the same time, we are committed to balancing that with getting the learning environment as close to normal as we can.

We know you will have a lot of questions over the return to school and nursery and we have tried to answer as many as we can as best we can in the content below. Please keep an eye on these pages for the most up-to-date information.

Dates and arrangements for return

Teachers and staff will return from Monday 10 August. Pupils will start to return to our schools and council-run nurseries from Wednesday 12 August, with a phased return for pupils for the first three days. All pupils will be back by Friday 14 August and all will be full-time from then.

Clearly, this year's return will be different from normal. Phasing children's return over the first couple of days will give schools and nurseries the space and time they need to ease that transition and ensure the right hygiene and safety measures are in place.

The arrangements for the first week are as follows:


From Wednesday 12 August - pre-school children (four year-olds) plus those receiving an additional year at nursery (where deferred entry to primary school has been agreed) can return.

From Thursday 13 August - children in their ante pre-school year (three-year olds) can return, in addition to those above

From Friday 14 August - children under three who have been allocated a place to start in August, in addition to those above

The arrangements above apply only to council-run early-learning childcare centres and classes. If your child attends a partnership or private nursery, they will be in touch directly to confirm the arrangements.

If you are unsure of your child's placement, please visit our 1140 ELC page within this section. 

Primary schools

Wednesday 12 August - P1 and P7 return to school 

Thursday 13 August - P2, P3 and P4 return to school in addition to P1 and P7

Friday 14 August - P5 and P6 return to school, in addition to the above, meaning all pupils back

Secondary Schools

Wednesday 12 August - S1 and S6 return to school

Thursday 13 August - S4 and S5 return to school in addition to S1 and S6

Friday 14 August - S2 & S3 return to school, in addition to the above, meaning all pupils back

ASN schools (Mary Russell and Riverbrae)

Wednesday 12 August - Primary pupils only return to school

Thursday 13 August - All pupils return

You should assume that it will be the normal start and finish time for your child. If any school or nursery is changing start and finish times to support the phased return, they will be in touch directly.

There may need to be individual arrangements discussed with parents if your child has specific additional support needs. This might mean an extended phasing back period for some children and young people. Your school will you contact in advance of the first day back if this is a requirement.

Safety and hygiene

National advice on health and safety

Our biggest priority is the health and wellbeing of all children and young people when they return to our schools and nurseries. We have planned extensively for this over the summer and when pupils return we will be doing all we can to make sure they feel safe, confident and engaged in their surroundings.

All of our planning closely follows the national guidance. The Scottish Government published expert scientific advice in July around the return of pupils to schools and nurseries, on which that guidance is based. It shows that globally there have been far fewer cases of Covid19 in children than in adults and that the virus is much milder in children. As of mid-July only 0.8% of the confirmed cases in Scotland had been in under-15s. There is also emerging evidence that children have less of a role in transmitting the virus than adults.

Physical distancing

In line with government guidance, no physical distancing is required between children in nurseries and schools. However schools will put measures in place to encourage young people, especially those in the senior phase, to physically distance where possible.

There will be physical distancing between adults, and where possible between adults and pupils - although clearly this will be harder to manage in nurseries and with younger primary pupils. Where staff cannot keep a two-metre distance and are interacting face-to-face for a sustained period (such as for 15 minutes or more), they may choose to wear face coverings, and these will be provided.

In order to minimise chances for the virus to spread, there will be no large gatherings such as assemblies or choirs. Schools and nurseries will ensure there is appropriate ventilation in buildings. Secondary schools will try to limit the movement of groups of young people around the school however the nature of their curriculum and timetable means there will need to be some movement. Schools and nurseries have been encouraged to be creative over how they can use all available spaces for learning - including outdoor spaces (where the Scottish weather allows!)

Cleaning of buildings and learning resources

We are putting in place an enhanced cleaning regime across all buildings and are hiring 100 new cleaners across Renfrewshire to help us manage this. Surfaces will be cleaned throughout the day and all schools and nurseries will be cleaned either at the end of the day or first thing in the morning before children arrive.

Sharing of learning resources will be minimised. Children and young people may bring their own resources (such as pencil cases) to school for their own use only. Children and young people will be reminded to keep school bags on the floor and not on their desks or worktops.

Advice on hand hygiene

Please ensure your child washes their hands before they leave each morning, and then when they arrive back home. When pupils come into school, they will wash their hands before they settle into the classroom or learning space. Hand washing will be encouraged throughout the day. Pupils will also be advised to wash hands before and after eating and when going to the toilet, and to use an elbow or tissue to cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. In secondary schools - where we don't have sinks in all classrooms - hand sanitiser will be available. Handwash and hand sanitiser will be provided but pupils can bring their own if they like.

Extra measures for ASN pupils

Safety measures will be in place to protect pupils and staff wherever they are needed to work in close proximity with additional-support-needs pupils. Staff will wear a face covering or PPE as appropriate, and regularly wash their hands before and after contact. We will carefully consider the cleaning regime for specialist equipment and additional spaces such as sensory rooms to ensure safe use.

Children and staff who have been shielding

As shielding is being paused across Scotland from Saturday 1 August, the national advice is that any pupils or staff who have been shielding will be able to return to school or nursery as normal and follow the same advice as everyone else. If your child has a particular health condition which is causing you concern, please speak to your doctor for advice.

Using cash in schools

The Parentpay system is already operational in most of our schools. Where this facility is not available, procedures will be put in place by the school to support cash handling.


If a pupil or staff member has symptoms of Covid19

We will treat any suspected cases of coronavirus in line with national guidance. Any pupil or staff members who shows symptoms will be sent home, and asked to follow the protocol around testing and self-isolation. If a child or young person is sent home with Covid19 symptoms they must not use school transport. We will contact the parent or carer and ask they make arrangements to collect them. In the meantime, staff will keep them away from other pupils and face coverings will be worn. Any room used to keep the pupil isolated will be cleaned afterwards. Should children be required to self-isolate, teaching staff will be able to support their learning from home.

If one or more pupils test positive for Covid19

Again, schools and nurseries will follow the national guidelines regarding the Test and Protect scheme, which are designed to stop the virus spreading. Anyone showing symptoms who had been in contact with the person who tested positive would be asked to self-isolate and be tested as soon as possible. The health authorities would be informed and we would follow their advice as to what further steps were needed to keep pupils and staff safe. We and our NHS colleagues have procedures and protocols in place that will be implemented should there be a cluster of cases.

Test and Protect

To support our schools and nurseries, there will be an enhanced surveillance and testing programme available to staff, children and young people across the country. This will include full application of Test and Protect, outbreak management and rapid testing for all those in schools and nurseries who have symptoms. It will also include close monitoring of the virus in schools and nurseries, and among nursery and school-aged children and young people, and staff. 

Proposals are also being developed for a targeted additional surveillance programme, involving testing groups of pupils and staff. This will provide more information on the transmission and prevalence of the virus for older pupils and staff in schools across the country.

Further information will be made available from public health in due course. Once this is available, we will update our parents and carers, young people and our staff as soon as we can.

School transport

Safety and hygiene on school transport

School transport will be provided as normal and will be regarded as an extension of the school estate - so there will be no need for physical distancing between children and young people, and face coverings are not needed.

Children and young people should wash their hands before boarding the bus in the morning, when they arrive at or leave school, and when they arrive back home. Parents should remind their child of the importance of general safety on school transport, such as always wearing a seatbelt. As always, food and drink should not be consumed on school transport.

We are working with our transport operators to put in place a process for cleaning school buses each day and that frequently-touched surfaces are cleaned after each journey.

If a pupil is travelling on public transport they should follow the national guidance by wearing face coverings and maintaining physical distancing from others. For pupils who travel to school by dedicated school taxi transfer, physical distancing is not needed but children or young people should sit in the back seat if possible and face coverings worn if appropriate.

Pick-ups and drop-offs

Any changes to normal pick-up and drop-off arrangements will be communicated directly to parents by your school. We want to avoid large gatherings of people and help maintain physical distancing between adults and children to be maintained. Children and young people will be informed by their school or nursery where they should go upon arrival. Parents should not enter the building unless required.

If possible, parents should park further away from school and nurseries and then walk with their children to avoid congestion. Parents of children with additional support needs who may normally drop their children off at the building should speak to their school or nursery, as arrangements will be put in place to support your child.

We encourage pupils, parents, carers and staff to use active travel routes wherever it is possible and safe. Walking and cycling, scooting and wheeling are strongly encouraged.

Other practical info

School uniforms

There is no council-wide policy regarding uniform - it's up to each school to make its own decisions around this. Your child's school will have told you whether they expect pupils to wear uniform (or not) before they finished in June. What they told you at that time still stands for when pupils return in August. Schools will let you know directly if that is to change at a later date. School uniforms should be washed and cleaned as normal.

School lunches

We will initially provide packed lunches for all children entitled to a free school meal and for those who wish to buy one. Each school will decide the best way to distribute these. This will reduce the number of pupils gathering to queue for lunch. However, as schools develop their own systems and protocols, they will then be able to move to hot lunches, hopefully at the start of September, in a manner that suits them best.

Breakfast clubs and out-of-school care

Out-of-school care will be available again from Monday 17 August in all places where it was provided pre-lockdown. You should contact your own provider who will be able to give you a start-up date.

Breakfast clubs will be more challenging to organise given the broad range of ways they are provided but we will be working with schools to get these up and running again as soon as possible. Your child's school will inform you directly of when this will start.

Childcare hubs for children of key workers

These have been running since March but will no longer be needed once schools and nurseries reopen. The childcare hubs will close on Thursday 6 August to allow buildings to be cleaned ahead of the new term.  Our thanks go to all staff who have helped provide this crucial service over recent months. For more information, see our Childcare Hubs page.

Learning and wellbeing

Learning for nursery children

Your children will continue to get the chance to connect with each other and extend their interests and motivation to learn. Nurseries will focus on the core areas of literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing, allowing children to learn new skills and apply them through their play.

Children will only have access to toys and equipment that are easy to clean. Resources such as sand, water and playdough may be used but only by consistent groupings of children - each nursery will do their own risk assessment on these.

Learning for primary school children

Schools will continue to focus on the evidence-based approaches already used to teach literacy and numeracy. They will also look to harness the benefits of outdoor learning - helping children be physically active, enjoy and learn about their natural environment, and relax.

We will help our new Primary 1 children settle in by supporting them to development positive relationships, and offering quality, play-based experiences.

Learning for secondary school children

Secondary school pupils will follow the normal curriculum and a full range of subject choices will be available. Personal and Social Education classes will focus on mental, emotional and social wellbeing, which we know will be important given the impact of lockdown.

For this year's qualifications, information on the post-certification review process will be available from schools - please contact them if you need more info. In terms of how next year's qualifications will work, we are awaiting further guidance from the SQA.

Helping pupils catch up after lockdown

We are aware parents may be worried that learning from home will not have been the same as learning in school. When schools return, our teaching staff will do what they do best - they will work with children and young people to understand their experiences during lockdown, work out where they may need extra support in terms of their learning, and put a plan in place to deliver that. For secondary pupils this will happen in each subject area.

Mental health and wellbeing

We appreciate the months spent in lockdown won't have been easy for parents or pupils and we are conscious of the need to help support children and young people back into school and nursery. There will be an increased focus on health and wellbeing across the curriculum for children and young people - all establishments have made this a priority in their plans for the year ahead.

Our education psychology service has a package of existing programmes designed to help:

  • Renfrewshire's Skills for Recovery (P6 - S6) is a six-week digital programme which will start at the beginning of the new term, with the themes for each week having been carefully considered to communicate what we want adults and children to hear and feel from their school environment in the weeks following their transition back from lockdown. Each theme includes a short video which we will share with parents via Facebook
  • Primary schools and early years settings teach emotional literacy in a variety of ways including through evidence-based programmes such as PATHS, Emotionworks, Ice Pack and BounceBack. All of these programmes have developed their own recovery responses that can be accessed by establishments.
  • Your child's school may use Seasons for Growth (P5 - S6) workshops which will be available to support staff and pupils in schools. These give staff the tools to support children and young peoples' emotions around change, loss, grief and trauma and to promote feelings of connectedness on return to education. Workshops for children and young people support them to identify strategies and people who can help them manage their feelings and adjust to our changed lives.
  • Living Life to the Full is an evidence-based programme based on cognitive behavioural therapy which has previously been delivered in six of our secondary schools and one ASN school. This will be rolled out to specific year groups in all remaining secondary schools during session 2020/21. 
  • Therapeutic Counselling Services is a new service which will be available for all children and young people in Renfrewshire aged 10 and over. If you would like to discuss this service please contact your school direct.