PARENTS will be informed “every step of the way” as county schools prepare to welcome pupils back in a full-time capacity on August 12 following new guidance from the Scottish Government.

On Tuesday, Depute First Minister John Swinney told the Scottish Parliament that he believed classes could resume nationally with no social distancing measures required if progress against Covid-19 continued over the summer.

And East Lothian’s education chief has pledged to work with headteachers to ensure parents are kept informed throughout the summer holidays as the council continues to follow national guidance and work towards welcoming students back.

Lesley Brown, chief operating officer education, acknowledged that it had been an anxious time for parents and teaching staff.

But she said: “Keeping families and staff informed over the last few months has been a priority for us.

"This week’s announcement makes it even more important that we involve parents every step of the way so they have confidence in our plans for a return to school after the summer holidays.”

Schools across East Lothian had been preparing to welcome pupils back after the school holidays using a blended model which would have seen pupils at school part-time and no school at all on Fridays.

Two-metre distancing would also have been in place.

Classrooms at some schools had already been redesigned to follow the two-metre rule and hand sanitising stations set up at entrances and classrooms.

Mrs Brown said that while the new government plan was welcomed, the work which had gone into preparing for the former proposals would stand the county in good stead should there be a spike in the virus or a change to plans.

She said: “We have contingency plans in place for social distancing should they be needed and are in a better position because of the extensive planning we have done already.

“In the event all children come back in August we do not know what September and October will look like and there is concern about a winter spike.

“Our contingency planning means we will be ready.”

Mrs Brown said headteachers would work through the summer holidays with education bosses to keep parents up to date as more details of the new plans were confirmed.

She said: “Our headteachers have already put in place procedures to keep parents informed and we will be in touch through the summer holidays.

“This is a unique situation we are all in and we aim to make sure everyone is kept informed.

“I feel for parents and understand their anxiety as well as those of our teaching staff as we move into this new phase but we aim to be as open and upfront as possible as we go forward.

“We had a huge uptake of home learning with 90 per cent of pupils logging in and were very successful when compared to other local authorities.

“I think we should look for the positive things we can take from the experience. Some pupils may have learnt new skills and may be rethinking their path because of new experiences and we look forward to hearing about those experiences.

“More importantly, we look forward to welcoming our children back to school and are excited to see them again in August.”

Councillor Shamin Akhtar, cabinet spokesperson for education and children’s wellbeing, praised the efforts of parents, carers and teaching staff during lockdown.

She said: “Staff across our schools especially our headteachers have been working tirelessly and around the clock to pull together plans based on government advice.

“Many parents and carers will be pleased to hear that schools will be going back full-time in August. We are making sure that our plans put the safety of our pupils and staff first and for this we have to be fully funded.”