Village Halls, gyms, and community spaces in Aberdeenshire could be used as classrooms as part of efforts to reduce class sizes and limit the spread of coronavirus.
Following Scottish Government guidance, schools all across Scotland are putting together plans to welcome pupils back in August, subject to the latest scientific advice.
However, schools will not be the same as they were before the pandemic.
As part of requirements to maintain social distancing and reduce the potential for Covid-19 outbreaks, various measures are being considered for implementation, such as providing seating 6ft apart, and staggering arrival, closing, and break times for children.
One of the options being looked at by Aberdeenshire Council is the use of the local authority’s properties outwith schools for use in learning.
Laurence Findlay, the director of education and children’s services at Aberdeenshire Council, said all manner of buildings are currently being considered, including those owned by Live Life Aberdeenshire, the council’s organisation which operates its sport, library, arts and museum facilities, as well as other services.
By utilising other buildings, the council will be able to reduce class sizes, and limit the potential for the virus to spread.
Mr Findlay told the BBC: “We are looking at the totality of our estate, that includes our Live Life Aberdeenshire Estates, our culture and sport buildings, our community halls and other facilities that we have and we’ll aim to make best use of all buildings we can from August.”
Mr Findlay stressed that moves to teach pupils in buildings such as community halls are still just proposals, and said technology will also play a big part in getting children back to school.
He explained: “We are exploring a wide range of options to ensure all of our children can benefit from a good mix of in-person and online learning.
“It is important to underline that no decisions have yet been made – the detailed plans drawn up to meet the unique requirements of schools and communities will be shared in the coming weeks.”
Other changes to average schooldays for children across Scotland will be a renewed focus on hygiene, including more hand-washing, robust cleaning schedules and other safety measures.
Gillian Owen, chairwoman of Aberdeenshire Council’s education committee, said: “Planning is well underway within Education and Children’s Services for a return to school in August, with a mixture of school attendance and home learning.
“This blended learning approach may last for some time.
“At present, we are looking at the totality of our resources, both our workforce and our buildings, and will ensure we make the most effective and efficient use of both.”
School and nursery staff have also been asked by the Scottish Government to speak out about what training and support they believe they need in order to return to work safely.
An online survey by Education Scotland has asked staff what kind of extra help they think would be most helpful in dealing with “the new circumstances”.
John Swinney, the Scottish Government’s education secretary, said: “We are asking everyone in education to tell us what support and training they need to do the best job they can in the coming weeks and months as we move towards being able to safely resume.”