We have been asked to share this latest local update from Inverclyde Council...
Schools have been encouraged to promote good hand hygiene and cleaning to help limit the spread of infection in the wider community. No decision has been taken on the widespread closure of schools across the UK or Scotland and officers continue to liaise with COSLA and the Scottish Government.
A letter will be sent to parents today (17 March 2020) outlining these arrangements:
School trips - Guidance has been issued that all overseas education trips for children under the age of 18 should be cancelled. Therefore all overseas trips taking place before 1 May 2020 will be cancelled until further notice. Further advice will be issued as national guidance is received. Planned UK based trips will be individually risk assessed and your school will be in contact with any families affected by any cancellations. Please note that any trips before the Easter holiday are likely to be cancelled.
School/establishment and education events - There are a number of school/establishment events taking place in the coming weeks, leading to the Easter holidays. Our advice to schools is that these are now postponed or cancelled. This will include parents' evenings.
After school clubs - We have advised schools that all after school clubs should now be cancelled for the foreseeable future. Breakfast clubs and afterschool childcare will run as normal. There may also be study sessions for pupils in the senior phase of secondary school - your school will issue advice or guidance on this.
Food provision in schools/establishments - There have been some recommendations in relation to the provision of food and food handling, particularly in relation to unwrapped food. As a further precautionary measure in the dinner hall environment, we are removing the self-service element of school meals and food will be served to pupils, minimising the numbers of people who handle food and again, reducing risk. Within early years' establishments, lunches, snacks and drinks will be served directly to children. Please note that there may be changes to the menu options for your child.
SQA Examination diet 2020 - As of 16 March 2020, the SQA still plans to proceed with this year's exam diet. If this should change, schools will communicate with parents of pupils in the Senior Phase with the plans that will need to be put in place.
Preparing for school closure - Schools have been asked to make preparations in the case of school closure. Your child's school will be in contact with you directly about the arrangements that they are putting in place.
Notre Dame Science Fayre - Due to the hands on nature of the science fayre, we have taken the precautionary measure of postponing the event.
Health and social care services
Older people's day care service – From 18 March 2020, all older people's day care services will stop at Hillend Older People's Day Centre and two commissioned day services run by the third sector, Muirshiel and Crown Day services. Alternative arrangements are being made to ensure that service users continue to receive the assessed support needed to remain at home safely and they will be contacted to confirm what these arrangements are. This decision has been taken to protect vulnerable older people, many with underlying health conditions.
Gourock Highland Games - The Gourock Highland Games is planned for Sunday 10 May and regularly has attendance of over 10,000. The current guidance of limiting events of over 500 people will mean that this will not take place. Inverclyde Council's corporate communications service is working with its partners at the Scottish Highland Games Association and the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) to examine options for hosting the event later in the year and will make an announcement through social media after Wednesday when these discussions are complete.
Library events - All of our libraries remain open at this time though library events are being postponed to protect older vulnerable people or because they bring large numbers of people together. This applies to all of our library bookbug sessions, chatty cafes, IT classes and library club. This also applies to the 'making waves' exhibition and recital planned for Wednesday 18 March 2020.
Duke of Edinburgh Awards - We are postponing a planned expedition for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, which was due to take place, and this also means the training event on 17 and 18 March 2020 will also be postponed.
Discover Inverclyde industry event – The planned tourism event will be postponed following the closure of the Beacon Arts Centre. Council communications and tourism service staff are speaking with partners to assess whether, given the impact COVID-19 (coronavirus) is having on the tourism sector, if there is an online version of the event, which can be facilitated to identify guidance and support for the sector now and through to the recovery phase.
Other organisations -
Beacon Arts Centre - The following statement has been issued by the Beacon Arts Centre today (Tuesday 17 March 2020):
"In line with the UK and Scottish Government's advice to avoid social contact, including in theatres, the Beacon Arts Centre is suspending all activities with immediate effect, until further notice, to support measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. As always, our priority remains the health and wellbeing of our audiences, participants and staff. We hope toreschedule affected performances and will be in touch with ticket holders as quickly as possible.
As an arts charity operating in the local community, we are reliant on the support of customers, funders and stakeholders. To ensure that we can re-open with the fantastic programme of performances and activities planned for later in the year, please consider supporting us in one of the following ways:
• Exchange your ticket for a rescheduled performance
• Turn the value of your ticket into a donation
• Transfer the value of your ticket into a credit to be used for future performances
We thank our customers for their support and patience during this uncertain time and are grateful to our funders for their continued support. We are also grateful to the many producers, artists and organisations we work with for their understanding.
West College Scotland – The College will be suspending all face to face teaching with effect from 4pm on Friday 20 March 2020. They are asking that students come into College this week as timetabled, to discuss and implement alternative arrangements.
National support (NB: provided before the news conference at 5pm 18-03-20) - The following support will be available to businesses from 1 April 2020, during the 2020/21 financial year and includes:
• 75 per cent rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from 1 April 2020
• £80m fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of Covid-19
• 1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020
• Fixed rates relief of up to £5,000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from 1 April 2020
Business Gateway Inverclyde - Business Gateway is being responsive and reactive to the needs and challenges that Scottish businesses face due to coronavirus. Plans are being put in place to deliver a virtual advisory and workshop service where possible. Advisers can offer free support with a wide range of business matters including continuity planning, managing cashflow, HR and dealing with suppliers. The local number for Inverclyde is 01475 779327.
Football and sports –
The SFA and SPFL have announced the suspension of all domestic professional and grassroots football in Scotland until further notice. This affects all youth football taking place in Inverclyde and parents/young people are encouraged to speak with their club coaches to find out how this affects any planned games or training. While this affects official games carried out by clubs, individuals who arrange their own football or other sports activity can still book pitches through Inverclyde Leisure. It is expected that other national sports organisations could follow this and the communities services will continue to liaise with them.