Thursday 13 August 2020
The next review of the lockdown measures will take place next Thursday where the First Minister will address Parliament.
In the meantime can I direct you all to the latest information produced by the Scottish Government here: https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/
As the situation is still very fluid I would recommend you take the time to check and see if there are any further changes to the guidance.
We are all dealing with particularly challenging circumstances, none more so than our young people. With the exams for this year having to be cancelled due to the pandemic the Scottish Government and the SQA had to find an alternative to ensure pupils hard work was recognised and awarded.
The SQA applied a system and methodology, which is used internationally in determining awards. However when it became apparent many of our young people were disadvantaged by this system the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills John Swinney acted to correct this, apologised to the young people affected and instructed the SQA to apply the teacher’s grading of students.
I support the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills in his actions to rectify the situation and I also took the opportunity to ask him a question on the impact of the situation on our young people during his statement to Parliament on Tuesday:
This follows on slightly from Mark McDonald’s question. The Deputy First Minister mentioned a long-term review of assessment. Today’s issue involving young people who are not sitting exams is a prime example of the opportunity that they have this time. Would the Deputy First Minister consider following the progress of this year’s pupils through college, university and employment to see whether the situation has led to greater opportunities for our young people?
Yes, I will commit to that. Sandra White highlights an important issue. We would benefit from understanding the implications of the decisions that we have taken, and Ms White’s suggestion of monitoring the progress that individual young people make is one that I will certainly pursue so that we are aware of the progress that can be made as a consequence of the decision.
You can access the full statement here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12735&i=115165
Following on from the exam results, schools across the country have re-opened welcoming pupils back to the school campuses.
Many pupils and staff will be absolutely delighted to be back and my thanks go to everyone involved in getting our schools ready for their return. The Scottish Government has been working hard with new guidance, developed with the Education Recovery Group, published to support local authorities, teachers and parents to prepare for the new term and minimise the risks of COVID-19 transmission through the application of a number of infection mitigation measures.
Congratulations to the team at Glasgow’s Golden Generation (GGG). They have been an incredible support to so many across the constituency throughout the pandemic.
GGG has provided 6,500 parcels to over 500 older people, which includes essentials and face coverings, produced by Angelic Threads. They have also made 8,500 welfare and befriending telephone calls to people who are housebound, shielding or vulnerable.
The team of 50 keyworkers and volunteers have provided vital support to older people during these exceptional times, and my thanks go to all of them for their commitment and dedication.
Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown has had an incredible effect on almost every part of our lives including toxicology reporting where we now have a backlog.
Many of you will know that I have been questioning plans for the withdrawal of the contract the University of Glasgow held to deliver these reports on behalf of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscals Service. With the delays in reporting I took the opportunity to raise this with the Cabinet Secretary for Justice in Parliament this week.
You can access the full exchange here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12735&i=115166
Many constituents have made contact with me regarding the use of face coverings and how those who are exempted from wearing them can provide proof.
Can I reiterate the Scottish government guidance on this matter – you do not have to provide evidence that you are exempted from their use. However I realise that many will feel more secure having something that they can provide as proof of their exemption.
The Thistle App have produced a handy app here http://www.thistleassistance.com/get-the-app/ and Accessible Travel have also produced exemption cards which you can access here: https://accessibletravel.scot/face-mask-exemption-not-everyone-can-wear-one/
Care home residents as of this week are now able to receive up to three outdoor visitors from no more than two households provided their home meets strict criteria, with infection control measures remaining in place.
Since 3 July care homes which have met this criteria have been able to allow residents to meet with one designated visitor outdoors.
A care home will only be able to permit visiting if they have been COVID-free throughout the pandemic or if all affected residents have fully recovered and no residents or staff have had symptoms for 28 days and the home is actively participating in weekly staff testing.
Visitors will need to wear face coverings throughout their visit and physical distancing and hand and cough hygiene will need to be adhered to at all times.
Care home providers have also been asked to develop plans on how they can safely allow one designated indoor visitor for residents within their homes. These plans must be submitted by 24 August and will be signed off by the relevant health board’s Director of Public Health once they are satisfied with the plan and the home meets all the criteria for indoor visiting.
Essential visits, including those involving end of life care, and visits for residents who are experiencing distress have been permitted throughout the pandemic and should continue to be supported by care homes.
Please remember to follow the Scottish Government advice and follow the FACTS:
Face coverings in enclosed spaces
Avoid crowded places
Clean hands and surfaces regularly
Two metre distancing; and
Self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms