Senior school pupils at a north-east academy are now attending classes in the mornings only, after teachers raised concerns over social distancing at lunch times.
Youngsters in S4-S6 at Peterhead Academy have now moved to a blended learning model, continuing their studies at home after morning classes at school.
The new measures were agreed before the October holidays and began on Monday for over the winter months.
They have been put in place as concerns were raised about “corridor crowding” around lunch times and during the change of periods.
Timetables have changed for senior pupils only, with the number of times they attend subjects changed to help minimise movement around the school.
A letter sent out to parents prior to the start of the holidays said: “We are finding that lunch times and change of periods are especially problematic resulting in considerable pupil crowding.
“The senior team spoke with principal teachers and it was agreed that a change to our current timetable in order to alleviate corridor crowding would take place after the October break.”
Senior pupils subjects are attended three times a week and are typically split into two two-period classes and one one-period class. This has now changed to twice a week and will be taught through one two-period class and one three-period class.
Core subjects religious and moral education (RME), personal and social education (PSE) and physical education (PE), will be affected by the changes.
Those in S4 will not have RME classes, and will only have PSE and PE classes on a four-weekly basis.
Those in S5/6 will continue to have a period of PSE, but will not be taught any RME or PE lessons.
They will also be given a lunch break at 1.10pm-2pm every day, and as many will not have a class in the afternoon, they are encouraged instead to study from home.
Those who rely on school transport to attend will be able to use the Open Learning Space at the school for studying.
Shona Sellers, Peterhead Academy head teacher, said: “In order for physical distancing measures in response to Covid-19 to be adhered to over the winter months, senior pupils at Peterhead Academy may be undertaking some of their study periods at home. These plans will not impact on pupils’ certificated classes.
“The school’s head teacher has written to parents to explain the arrangements. Peterhead Academy staff will work with families on finding bespoke solutions if the new plans pose an issue. Those pupils who take busses to and from Peterhead Academy will have spaces in school to carry out their work.
“The senior leadership team hope this staggered lunchtime approach addresses points raised by the local community about the numbers of pupils in Peterhead over lunchtime.
“If a parent or carer have questions about these plans please raise them with the school.”
No time will be lost from chosen subjects, with only core classes and study time affected by the change.
Pupils are able to sign in after break time or go home early if they wish to study from home, but are expected to attend all timetabled classes.
Vincent Docherty, Aberdeenshire Council’s head of education, said: “All 17 academies in Aberdeenshire have adapted how they deliver the curriculum to different year groups and subject areas in response to the demands of maintaining education during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“All secondary schools will implement measures that best meet the individual school communities they serve. These adaptations may include staggered lunches and start times, 100-minute-learning and teaching periods and increased responsibility for self-study periods. To suggest that academies in Aberdeenshire are reducing ‘in-school time’ for senior pupils is simply not true.”
The changes will mean there is less mixing between junior and senior pupils, and there will be less movement between periods so corridors are less crowded.
David Wilson, chairman of the Peterhead Academy Parent Council, said: “These changes will ease congestion in the school and reduce the risk of temporary closures. It means that senior phase pupils will have to put some more effort to studying from home, but they don’t miss out on any time with their chosen subjects and I think it is a good response to a difficult situation.
“I have four children at the school, including one in S6, and have been pleased at how the school is adapting to the current challenges.
“At the last Parent Council meeting we were keen to express to the staff that we appreciated the work going into keeping the children safe and providing a good education when so much was uncertain for everyone.”