Over the course of the summer, a significant effort has gone into our preparations to ensure we provide a safe and healthy environment for pupils and staff when term begins in September.
Our Return to School Guide outlines the key measures we have put in place.
These will remain under continual review to ensure we adhere fully to guidelines from both the Scottish and UK governments, as well as other leading organisations including HMC, the Boarding Schools Association, and the Scottish Council of Independent Schools.
While the actual risk of COVID-19 to children and young people remains extremely low in Scotland, and Glenalmond’s setting clearly offers distance from densely populated areas, the welfare of all within the Glenalmond community is the College’s first priority.
All guidelines indicate that social distancing is not required among pupils but physical distancing should be encouraged where possible, especially among older pupils. A key element of creating the safest environment is the organisation of pupils into groups known as ‘bubbles’ in the College community. These bubbles minimise contact between pupils of different ages and allow the fullest curriculum, including sport and other activities, to be conducted as normally as possible.
Taking into consideration all the available advice and guidance to date, Glenalmond's current intention is that for the initial three weeks of the Michaelmas Term we will accommodate pupils in horizontal groups. This means pupils will board with other members of the same gender in their year groups in Houses at the start of term.
This unusual step is an opportunity which Glenalmond presents as a result of our setting and provision, and which we can make full use of to offer an increased level of protection and reassurance to all. We will be monitoring the Scottish Government’s review of restrictions later in August, and should this step be necessary, we will confirm the allocation of year groups to Houses in the final week of the holiday.
This step will have the added benefit of allowing pupils to interact more freely on a daily basis in classrooms, in games and in activities, and this normal interaction is particularly beneficial to the wellbeing of pupils after such a long period of restriction.
This temporary move to allocate pupils to boarding houses by their year group ensures we are best placed to deliver continuity of education in a range of different future scenarios. This measure will be in place for the initial three weeks of term and kept under review in light of official guidance.
The House ethos will, however, remain at the heart of life at Glenalmond and pupils will continue to have regular contact with their Housemaster or Housemistress as well as interacting as a House group within their horizontal, year-group bubbles.
We very much look forward to welcoming pupils back to Glenalmond on September 2nd and full details on the arrangments for that day will be communicated shortly.