Pupils set for phased return
A phased return for pupils later this month has been welcomed by Scottish Borders Council leader Shona Haslam.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced this week that all P1-3 pupils, as well as those in early learning and childcare, can return to schools from February 22, while some senior secondary pupils will also attend school on a limited basis to allow them to complete work for national qualifications.
Mrs Haslam said: “The reopening of schools is a huge priority for us and it is encouraging to be able to talk about some pupils returning as early as February 22.
“We will do all we can to ensure our school buildings remain safe places for both staff and young people to attend and we have all necessary risk assessments, processes and procedures in place to keep the schools COVID-free.
“While we are just looking at a partial reopening at this stage we remain in a really positive position to be able to provide digital learning for those not returning to school just yet through our Inspire Learning programme.
“I would once again like to thank all of our young people, parents and staff for their co-operation, flexibility and hard work during this challenging period.
"We will be in touch with all affected parents as soon as we can to let them know about arrangements.”
While new cases of Covid-19 are continuing to fall in the Borders – with 89 confirmed cases in the latest seven-day period – the pressure on the Borders General Hospital remains stubbornly high.
Three dedicated Covid wards remain open in the hospital as well as a recently-opened Covid-19 Higher Observation Unit within Ward 5, so that patients with the virus who are well enough to leave the Intensive Care Unit can be cared for in a suitable environment.
Associate Director of Acute Services, Gareth Clinkscale said: “Our staff are working tirelessly to maintain a level of routine services including all urgent, cancer and emergency surgeries.
"We have faced significant pressure over the past week which has resulted in delays in our emergency department and in admitting patients to our wards.”
“Please play your part in protecting our NHS by following the rules and staying at home.”