News round-up: Phased return of Highland schools, Isles cancer message, and Collective Isolation exhibition

The Chair of the Highland Council Education Committee has echoed calls for young people to get back to school as soon as possible but stressed the need for safety to come first.

The comments from Education Chair, Councillor John Finlayson came after a discussion held this week by the Highland Council’s recovery board concerning the local authority’s approach to a phased reopening of schools.

There has been concern and disappointment from parents that children, will not be back full time in August – almost six months since schools closed their doors.

This week parents at Portree High were told their children would initially only be able to attend school for one day a week, when the new term starts in August.

Highland Council said it is being guided by the national framework, and will look at the local and individual circumstances of each of its 203 schools and Education Learning and Care settings to provide “the safest and most valuable learning experience” possible to its 50,000 children and young people when term resumes in August.

Newly appointed Executive Chief Officer for Education and Learning, Paul Senior, has commissioned a programme management office to plan for the return of pupils.

The PMO, comprised of 11 sub-groups, consists of a range of local area partners, stakeholders and providers, meeting weekly to develop operational plans, risks assessments, and develop a shared approach.

These 11 Sub Groups cover the following areas:

Facilities Management
North Area Project
West Area Project
Mid Area Project
South Area Project

Education chair councillor John Finlayson.

Chair of the Education Committee, Councillor Finlayson, said “The Recovery Board has discussed the many areas needed for deliberation to safely get our young people back to school.

“Future plans and risk assessments will take account of children’s educational outcomes, equal opportunities, social and emotional needs, and their rights.

“Communication with parents is key and plans at individual school level will, of course, be informed by national guidance, authority guidance, and, importantly, local circumstances.

“We all want to get our young people back in the school setting as soon as possible, but this needs to be done as safely as possible”.

Councillor Finlayson said he had told Highland MSPs it would take additional resources from the Scottish Government to provide the extra accommodation, and additional staff required to allow more children to attend school for longer periods of the week.

“The NHS is here for you, so don’t ignore the warning signs,” says Isles Medical Director

Coronavirus has changed lots of things but if you are at all concerned about a cancer sign or symptom, NHS Western Isles is encouraging people who are concerned about a cancer sign or symptom not to delay and contact your GP for advice as soon as possible.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a number of screening programmes have been temporarily paused. In fact, the latest research has found individuals are less likely to contact their GP at this present time, with many concerned about their safety, or unsure what to expect if they do go.

To allay these concerns and encourage anyone to attend, or to make an appointment if they are concerned, NHS Western Isles would like to reassure islanders that it’s normal to feel anxious, but that contacting your GP can be the best way to get any potential cancer symptoms checked – as the earlier cancer is found, the easier it is to treat.

Some symptoms to look out for include:

breast changes
bladder changes
bleeding or bruising, for no known reason
bowel changes
eating problems
fatigue that is severe and lasts
fever or night sweats for no known reason
mouth changes
neurological problems
skin changes
swelling or lumps
weight gain or weight loss for no known reason

Find out more about cancer signs and symptoms by clicking here.

‘Collective Isolation’ examined in art collective exhibition

An art collective from encompassing members from across Skye, Lochalsh, and Wester Ross have collaborated for an exhibition of work which reflects the variety within the collective and the various life stages we find ourselves in.

Art has proved a solace to many through the Covid-19 crisis and the 11 members of the Bridge Art Collective have been trying to maintain their various practices, despite some difficult experiences, trying circumstances and with no galleries open.

They have come together, virtually, to share their work with ‘Collective Isolation’ which reflects the variety within the Collective and the various life stages we find ourselves in.

Their shared experiences are celebrated in the work: from home-schooling, illness and separation to a newfound connection with our immediate surroundings.

There will be a wide range of media in the exhibition including photography, drawing, painting, collage, print-making and sculpture and a chance to link to the artists’ own professional websites and to purchase our work.

The exhibition can be viewed online from June 20th – July 20th by clicking here and is available for one month.

The Bridge Art collective will be showcasing its work via its Facebook page by clicking here and via its Instagram by clicking here.