An Aberdeen trade union chief has suggested temporary buildings could be installed at schools to get more pupils into the classroom.
Ron Constable, joint secretary of the city’s branch of the EiS union, made the comments as it was revealed just a third of children would be able to attend school at any one time.
It came after Aberdeen City Council published its Local Delivery Phasing Plan.
The plan revealed the local authority’s roadmap for reopening schools and the work being done to make them safe.
It also includes information about how the curriculum will work once doors reopen on August 11.
Mr Constable said steps should be taken to ensure as many children can attend school as possible, and highlighted the use of temporary units as a potential solution to deal with the overflow from social distancing.
Outdoor cabins have previously been used at schools around the country to deal with rising pupil numbers.
Mr Constable said: “If a big hospital at the SEC in Glasgow can be built in a matter of days, I don’t see why they can’t put cabins in school grounds as emergency classrooms.
“That would be important as it would allow as many kids as possible to participate and receive their education.
“It’s also important to keep the children learning in as close to the environment they are used to as possible.
“Four or five cabins in the playground, if there is space, would help combat the overflow caused by social distancing and allow more of the kids to attend school.
“Temporary buildings can be thrown up very quickly.
“It’s certainly something that should be considered.”
Among the measures laid out in the council’s plans are pupils attending on a rota basis, reduced class sizes, and a ban on youngsters hugging or holding hands.
Schools will also be asked to bring in agreed protocols for drop off and pick ups.
Capacity on school transport would be reduced to adhere to social distancing.
However, the report says that where possible larger vehicles could be deployed, along with undertaking double runs or using multiple vehicles.
The plan also discusses the impact on staff that the measures would have, and states: “The blended model of education that we expect to see for a period of time may lead to requirements for workforce flexibility and increased staffing where possible. Increasing staffing capacity, with the exception of Early Learning and Childcare, is likely to continue to be a challenge across the city.
“A proportion of staff may also be shielding or absent due to Covid-19 symptoms, which may affect their ability to attend physical settings. Staff may require access to childcare to allow them to attend school under the blended model of education and this will be organised. Staff who are shielding will be asked to support ‘in home’ learning.”
Meanwhile, the plan also discusses the impact on children with additional support needs and says: “The requirement for social distancing may have an impact on children and young people with additional support needs.
“Additional or alternative spaces may be utilised if available, regardless of where they normally learn. Greater flexibility will be realised through the creative use of outdoor space.
“All specials schools have continued to offer support to a proportion of children and young people over the last nine weeks and the current working practices will be developed to accommodate the gradual re-entry of all children. This will have an impact on those who have been attending daily with an expectation of ‘in school’ and ‘in home’ learning for all.
“Rotas will be carefully considered to ensure that we continue to mitigate risk. Availability of transport will be a factor in determining groupings.”
Meanwhile, schools across Scotland are “unlikely” to see a return to normality for the duration of the upcoming school year, Scotland’s education secretary has said.
John Swinney said he has confidence schools in Scotland will return in a “limited fashion” on August 11 but acknowledged this would depend on the science at the time.
Speaking to BBC Politics Scotland, he said it is “unlikely” that schools will return to normal activity for the duration of the 2020-21 school year, due to a need to maintain social distancing measures for a “considerable time to come”.
He added that the exam diet is being prepared for spring 2021 on the “working assumption” it will take place.
Mr Swinney said: “But we have said to schools to gather evidence on achievements of pupils on an ongoing basis.
“I think it is practical and possible to deliver an exam diet but we need to take into account a number of circumstances.
“It might be possible to start it later on in the year and enable more learning opportunities.”
Parents will be legally obliged to send their children to school, should they reopen as planned in August, as will teachers, the education secretary said.
However, teachers in the shielded category for “entirely legitimate health reasons” will not be able to carry out face-to-face teaching and would instead help from home to provide support to schools.