By Lachlan Bruce

OUR kids need to be back in school, as soon and as often as possible. We know that the children being worst hit by this time out of school are those from the least privileged backgrounds.

The council is working to try to get children back to school but the current government proposals are not acceptable.

They aim for the majority of primary schools to have 50 per cent of pupils attending at any one time; and some primary schools to have only 33 per cent of pupils attending at a time.

In our high schools it is a similar story of, at best, having only 50 per cent of pupils attending at any one time.

Part of the issue is that Scottish Government guidance on two-metre social distancing massively limits the number of children who can be in class at any one time.

Of course, as we have seen this week, confusion exists in the government as to how education will be delivered in the long term any- way.

John Swinney explained that the proposed blended learning arrangements are likely to last for most of the next academic year, only for Nicola Sturgeon to suggest these proposals are merely a contingency plan.

This uncertainty creates many difficulties as we plan.

For example, how do we get children to school from home?

The council currently provides transport to get children to schools but, as stands, it will not be sufficient and will need to be radically increased in scope.

Council officers suggest that this could mean the cost ballooning to “in excess of £6.5 million and therefore well beyond existing resource levels”, in part due to the two-metre social distancing requirement.

But, even with a smaller distance, there will still be significant difficulty in our schools.

We should look at utilising other public buildings such as community centres and sports halls for education purposes.

However, this then comes to the crux of the matter: there are significant resourcing issues with reopening schools.

The Scottish Government has asked councils and schools to operate and act in new and radical ways but has not come forward in a meaningful way to assist them.

The Scottish Government must help us fund the cost of transporting children to school and help to fund the opening up of other public buildings.

Providing an education to our children here in East Lothian needs to be among our very highest priorities.

That is why my Conservatives colleagues on the council’s education committee, which is meeting this week, will be pushing officers to try to get children back in school sooner and quicker.