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When the lockdown was first announced, many of our pupils began offsite education. We then launched our Critical Worker Service to support our critical key worker families who are required to participate in the national response to COVID-19.

Mr Mills shared: “The day begins as the school nursing and staff team arrive with temperature testing and handwashing for all, with the pupils arriving at 8am. Pupils and staff observe social distancing and follow a normal school day where they are working in small numbers in classrooms following their education online, like their friends out of school. The day finishes at 3.30pm when parents pick up their children.

“Throughout the day, areas of the school and individual items are regularly cleaned to maintain hygiene standards. And the numbers on campus are kept as low as possible to ensure a safe working environment. The feedback has been enormously positive and the school is pleased to support Category 1 NHS key workers in their front line work in combating the Covid-19 crisis.”

Dr Stuart Reary and his wife Elaine Slattery are both healthcare workers using the service. With both parents urgently needed by the NHS, children Jules (S1) and Archie (P5) were enrolled in the Critical Worker Service, which Dr Reary says has been a massive benefit to the family.

Dr Reary said: “If we had not had the option of the children going to Robert Gordon’s we would have had to alternate one of us working at home and this would have been very hard to make work. We appreciate how lucky we are in having a school that has supported us and also not having had the challenge that so many parents are having of trying to juggle work and home schooling. It has certainly given us the much-needed headspace to focus on our roles.”

For Jules and Archie, their school day has changed. Archie sees up to a dozen classmates at school, with Jules seeing similar numbers of S1/2 pupils. Secondary pupils are working with their teachers to follow their timetable, but instead of moving from class to class, they are using Google meetings. Archie’s class are still doing the same subjects (other than swimming) using the Google software and are catching up with friends learning from home too. 

Archie said: “My favourite thing would probably be playing outside. I think I’ve made a few new friends while I’ve been playing.”

Jules added: “My favourite thing about the new care set up is having a small class because it’s nice and quiet during the day and you get your work done quicker.”

But it’s not just the pupils adapting to the changes. The nursing team has been ensuring that things run as smoothly as possible and that everyone is taken care of.

Nurse Khan said: “As school nurses it is important to give the children an opportunity to share their worries or concerns with a familiar face. We realise that they may feel sad and confused. This seems to be mainly centred around the loss of the daily interactions with the school community in the playground or the classroom and getting used to the new ways of working with their teachers and keeping in touch with friends. We want parents to feel that their child is safe, supported and well cared for so they can concentrate on fulfilling their frontline roles during this unprecedented time.

“By attending the Critical Worker Service the pupils have developed new friendships, learned new ways of working and readily adapted to the new way of school life. The pupils have really amazed us with their resilience and we are proud of the standard of service that the College has been able to offer.”

Read more about the Critical Worker Service in the Press and Journal, and Evening Express today.

 

 

 

 

Editorial:

 

Critical Worker Service keeps RGC pupils learning

 

When the lockdown was first announced, the staff at Robert Gordon’s College knew that the way they delivered lessons to pupils would change.

While many began virtual learning at home, for some pupils with parents working on the frontlines of the fight against Covid-19 that wasn’t an option, so the school launched its Critical Worker Service.

Simon Mills, the Head of College, explained a day in the Critical Worker Service.

He said: “The day begins as the school nursing and staff team arrive with temperature testing and handwashing for all, with the pupils arriving at 8am.

“Pupils and staff observe social distancing and follow a normal school day where they are working in small numbers in classrooms following their education online, like their friends out of school.

“The day finishes at 3.30pm when parents pick up their children.”

Throughout the day, areas of the school and individual items are regularly cleaned to maintain hygiene standards. And the numbers on campus are kept as low as possible to ensure a safe working environment.

Simon added: “The feedback has been enormously positive and the school is pleased to support Category 1 NHS key workers in their front line work in combating the Covid-19 crisis.”

One family which has been making use of the service is the Rearys.

Dr Stuart Reary and his wife Elaine Slattery are both healthcare workers.

Stuart said: “I am a GP partner at Stonehaven Medical Centre and Aberdeenshire Deputy Clinical Lead - however for the duration of the Covid-19 response I was asked to go full time in the clinical lead role for Aberdeenshire and was kindly allowed to do that by my practice.

“One of my early roles was to help set up and support the Covid-19 triage hub in Aberdeen and this is still my base on a daily basis.

“My main role now is advisory to Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Senior Managers and also to the Aberdeenshire practices on operational and strategic responses to the pandemic.”

He continued: “My wife Elaine Slattery is a full time Nurse Manager in the hospital currently working in the Nursing Workforce Cell at ARI.

“This role involves movement and redeployment of nursing staff in relation to evolving pressures throughout the duration of this major incident, basically ensuring the clinical areas that have increased demand such as Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Department have the right number of appropriately skilled staff.”

With both parents urgently needed by the NHS, children Jules and Archie needed a way to continue their schooling, so they were enrolled in the Critical Worker Service, which Stuart says has been a massive benefit to the family.

“My parents live locally, and in more normal times are our main source of childcare. However they are both now over 70 so it would not be sensible to ask them to look after the children due to the increased risk of causing infection in a vulnerable age group.

“If we had not had the option of the children going to Robert Gordon’s we would have had to alternate one of us working at home and this would have been very hard to make work.”

He added: “We appreciate how lucky we are in having a school that has supported us and also not having had the challenge that so many parents are having of trying to juggle work and home schooling. It has certainly given us the much-needed headspace to focus on our roles.”

For Jules and Archie, their school day has changed quite substantially. P5 pupil Archie sees up to a dozen classmates at school, with Jules seeing similar numbers of S1/2 pupils.

Secondary pupils are working with their teachers to follow their timetable, but instead of moving from class to class, they are using Google meetings.

Archie’s class are still doing the same subjects (other than swimming) using the Google software and are catching up with friends learning from home too.

But the changes have had positive aspects.

Archie said: “My favourite thing would probably be playing outside. I think I’ve made a few new friends while I’ve been playing.”

Jules added: “My favourite thing about the new care set up is having a small class because it’s nice and quiet during the day and you get your work done quicker.”

But it’s not just the pupils adapting to the changes. The nursing team has been ensuring that things run as smoothly as possible and that everyone is taken care of.

Nurse Tor Khan said: “As school nurses it is important to give the children an opportunity to share their worries or concerns with a familiar face. We realise that they may feel sad and confused.

“This seems to be mainly centred around the loss of the daily interactions with the school community in the playground or the classroom and getting used to the new ways of working with their teachers and keeping in touch with friends.

“We want parents to feel that their child is safe, supported and well cared for so they can concentrate on fulfilling their frontline roles during this unprecedented time.”

Tor added: “By attending the Critical Worker Service the pupils have developed new friendships, learned new ways of working and readily adapted to the new way of school life.

“The pupils have really amazed us with their resilience and we are proud of the standard of service that the College has been able to offer.”

Find out more about Robert Gordon’s College at www.rgc.aberdeen.sch.uk.

 

Online and Print editorial 

Aberdeen Journals

Cost: Free of charge - no PO required

Editorial coverage during w/c 27-04-2020

Q&A below which a journalist will write up in to a feature

Images of each person to be included

Note there will be further editorial looking at 

Photo options

 

Theme: Critical Worker Service

 

Head of College - Simon Mills

  • What is a typical day in this very untypical situation?
    • The Critical Workers Service begins as the school Nursing and staff team arrive with temperature testing and handwashing for all with the pupils arriving at 0800. Pupils and staff observe social distancing and follow a normal school day where they are working in small numbers in classrooms following their education online, like their friends out of school. The day finishes at 3.30pm when parents pick up their children. The feedback has been enormously positive and the school is pleased to support Category 1 NHS key workers in their front line work in combating the Covid-19 crisis.
  • How have you adapted your work to meet the demands of this new set up?
    • Hygiene standards are extremely high and all areas receive through the day cleaning as well as individual devices, pencils and surfaces being wiped down regularly. The physical and mental health of all attending is a top priority and regular social engagement and exercise is built into the day. The number of people on site is kept as low as possible with standards of care as high as possible to help ensure a safe working environment for all.

 

Dr Stuart Reary, working in Category 1 using our CWS

  • Explain your job, shifts etc.
    • I am a GP partner at Stonehaven Medical Centre and Aberdeenshire Deputy Clinical Lead - however for the duration of the Covid-19 response I was asked to go full time in the clinical lead role for Aberdeenshire and was kindly allowed to do that by my practice. One of my early roles was to help set up and support the Covid-19 triage hub in Aberdeen and this is still my base on a daily basis. My main role now is advisory to Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Senior Managers and also to the Aberdeenshire practices on operational and strategic responses to the pandemic. I also feed into NHS Grampian level meetings to help give a General Practice perspective on issues. My official hours are 8-6 Monday to Friday in theory but clearly the workload spills outwith this time due to the evolving demands.
    • My wife Elaine Slattery is a full time Nurse Manager in the hospital currently working in the Nursing Workforce Cell at ARI. This role involves movement and redeployment of nursing staff in relation to evolving pressures throughout the duration of this major incident. Basically ensuring the clinical areas that have increased demand such as Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Department have the right number of appropriately skilled staff.
  • How has the school offering care for your child/children helped you and your family?
    • What the school being open means to us is that I can drop the children Jules and Archie off at the start of the day and Elaine can pick them up. Allowing both of us to do a full days work in the knowledge that our children are being well looked after and educated. Both children have always loved Robert Gordon’s and this hasn’t changed. They are always positive about going into school and tell us they enjoy it! It was also great that the school was able to offer a holiday club during the Easter holidays, which we utilised. Both children enjoy seeing some of their friends in the classroom and having the chance to catch up with others online. Although I am sure all of us would prefer if everything returned to a more normal school day.
  • If you hadn’t had this care provision, what would you have had to do instead?
    • If we hadn’t had this option we would have been a little bit stuck, as both our roles are full time. My parents live locally and in more normal times is our main source of childcare and are a wonderful support to us, helping with some of the pick-ups and helping out during the school holidays. However they are both now over 70 so it would not be sensible to ask them to look after the children due to the increased risk of causing infection in an age group that are potentially more vulnerable to complications. If we had not had the option of the children going to Robert Gordon’s we would have had to alternate one of us working at home. However both our jobs are very busy and this would have been very hard to make-work. 
    • We appreciate how lucky we are in having a school that has supported us and also not having had the challenge that so many parents are having of trying to juggle work and home schooling. It has certainly given us the much-needed headspace to focus on our roles.

Jules Reary, S1 pupil at Robert Gordon’s College

  • How is the current situation different from a normal school day?
    • Now we do not see our teachers in person so we have google meets for almost every subject, we are also not seeing as many people as we normally would, only the people that come here. We also have a slightly different time table and two breaks instead of one, this means we get a bit of fresh air everyday which is important. 

 

  • How many children are in your ‘class’?
    • There is usually between about 7-10 people in my ‘new class’ although it does change over the weeks and I have found that more people are coming to school now than six weeks ago. Most of us in our ‘class’ are S1’s the most S2’s we have had are two at the very most. 

 

  • Are you managing to learn like you would normally?
    • I feel like I am managing to learn normally and I still feel like I am taking in as much knowledge, the only difference is that we aren’t being taught by teachers to our faces unless we have a google meet. 

 

  • What’s been your favourite thing about the new care set up?
    • My favourite thing about the new care set up is having a small class because it’s nice and quiet during the day and you get your work done quicker than in class because you're not getting distracted by your friends, adding to this it’s a nice working environment. 

 

  • Are you managing to speak to your usual classmates who are learning at home?
    • I am still keeping in contact with my friends that aren’t coming into school, we text and FaceTime and I am also getting to know the people that come into school a little better. 

 

Archie Reary, P5 pupil at Robert Gordon’s College

  • How is the current situation different from a normal school day?
    • Because we’re in a pandemic we have to social distance and have our temperature taken at school, and it’s strange as only a selection of pupils are there because their parents are critical workers. We have to do a lot of Google meets which are slightly messing up my timetable. 

 

  • How many children are in your ‘class’?
    • There are normally 8-12 pupils in the P4-5 class but we have opened up the walls so we have a double classroom. Sometimes people are there all week and sometimes not. It just keeps changing. 

 

  • Are you managing to learn like you would normally?
    • Learning doesn't feel as normal and we have had to get used to different ways of being taught. I miss being in the big classroom. We still do all the same subjects apart from swimming which I miss. 

 

  • What’s been your favourite thing about the new care set up?
    • My favourite thing would probably be playing football outside, I think I’ve made a few new friends while I’ve been playing. 

 

  • Are you managing to speak to your usual classmates who are learning at home?
    • Not all of them. We have a group chat and do google meets 3-4 times per day but we don’t have much time to chat.

 

School Nurse - Tor Khan

  • How many children are you looking after currently?
    • At the Robert Gordon’s College critical care service we welcome up to forty pupils per day allowing their parents to continue their NHS vital roles. 
    • Every morning school nurses welcome the pupils as they arrive and complete a health check with each child in a safe and secure environment. Providing a supportive and happy arrival is important for us to maintain to ensure the children feel comfortable during these challenging times. 
  • Do you feel this is your way of helping in the fight against Covid-19, as you are freeing up parents to go and be frontline workers?
    • As school nurses it is important to give the children an opportunity to share their worries or concerns with a familiar face. We realise that they may feel sad and confused.This seems to be mainly centred around the loss of the daily interactions with the school community in the playground or the classroom and getting used to the new ways of working with their teachers and keeping in touch with friends. We want parents to feel that their child is safe, supported and well cared for so they can concentrate on fulfilling their frontline roles during this unprecedented time.
  • What’s your relationship like with this much smaller group of pupils?
    • We can quickly tell how the children are feeling each day which may highlight any additional support that may help. By attending the Critical Worker Service the pupils have developed new friendships, learned new ways of working and readily adapted to the new way of school life. The pupils have really amazed us with their resilience and we are proud of the standard of service that the College has been able to offer.