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Pupils need clarity around social distancing in schools


Royal Blind has said it is essential that children with visual impairment receive more information on how schools will operate

Clarity around social distancing in schools is essential for pupils with visual impairment, a charity has said.

Scotland’s largest visual impairment charity has called for clear guidance for schools on how they will support pupils with visual impairment to observe social distancing measures where this is required in secondary schools, and any new arrangements to manage the flow of staff and students in school corridors.

Royal Blind, which runs the Royal Blind School and provides specialist support to pupils with visual impairment in mainstream schools, made the call for support for blind and partially sighted pupils after the Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced in parliament yesterday (Thursday 23 July) that secondary schools would be asked to maintain distancing where possible.

Hawys Kilday, director of services for Royal Blind, said: “Social distancing in schools presents challenges for all teachers and pupils, but particularly for pupils with visual impairment.

“People with visual impairment can find it difficult or impossible to tell if they are one or two metres away from someone else. That is why they need to be supported to maintain social distancing or with new arrangements to manage the flow of staff and students in school corridors.

“Clear guidance for schools is vital to help them provide a safe and supportive environment for pupils with visual impairment as they take measures to reduce the risk of Covid-19, and all staff and pupils need to be aware of the challenges blind and partially sighted pupils face with social distancing.

“Royal Blind supports specialist education both in mainstream schools and through the Royal Blind School and we are keen to work with the Scottish Government and local authorities to ensure schools can provide pupils with visual impairment the support and information they need to meet the additional challenges of providing education as we emerge from lockdown.”

Swinney announced yesterday that the Scottish Government has allocated £50 million of funding to allow councils to recruit 850 teachers and 200 support staff to help with the plans to re-open schools. He said he expected the “vast majority” of new staff will be in place by September but some may not be able to begin until October.

Councils will also receive £20 million to help them with extra costs relating to new health protection measures, school transport, enhanced cleaning and other essential logistical issues.



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