Updated Scottish Government guidelines and Covid-compliance rules means hosting a school sports day is proving a challenge this year.
Whole school sports days are not allowed in 2021, but schools are allowed to host outdoor activities as long as students stick to their classroom groupings.
Either way, there will be no cheering crowds as parents are not allowed according to recent government guidance.
The government posted an update to its guidance on reducing Covid-19 risks in schools last week. In it, they broke the news to parents and schools that sports days won’t look the same this year.
But some schools have already staged their modified sports days. Laxdale Primary School on Lewis held a full week of activities in May and proved that there’s always room for a good time if you think outside the box.
Laxdale head teacher Mairi Macleod said that the goal for her school’s sports week was to give pupils a sports day experience that came as close to the traditional festivities as possible.
“A wee bit different this year with Covid and no parents being allowed on site, but we kept the children in their class bubbles up on the football pitch and they ran all the races in groups.
“One of our teachers videoed every race at the finish line and he put it together as a 20-minute video of the whole sports day for parents to see. So they all got to see their children taking part, albeit from video.”
The week was organized around an Olympic theme, and classes adopted “home countries” to represent and learned about their adopted nations throughout the week.
On the final day, the P7 pupils got the chance to lead the school through various activities and games.
Members of the schools student sports council said it was a new challenge being in charge for once–and maybe they have a bit of newfound respect for some of their teachers.
“We enjoyed leading the activities on Friday along with the others in P7. We had to gather the equipment and be organised for the pupils.
“The older pupils were easier to work with and explain things to. The younger pupils didn’t listen so well. It was hard work!’
Here’s what some other local authorities across the north and north east are advising parents regarding upcoming sports day.
Big on fun, short on fans
Even though different parts of Scotland are experiencing the effects of COVID-19 differently, the overall guidance remains the same: parents are not allowed at sports days and school-wide activities are banned.
I am confident schools will still be organise fantastic Sports Days
John Finlayson, Highland Education Committee Chairman
John Finlayson, chairman of the Highland Council Education Committee, said that the situation is at least better than last year. Even though he is disappointed for parents and children who can’t enjoy sports day together, he expects teachers to find a way to make the best experience possible.
“The organisation of sports days, like everything else, have to follow the Covid rules and regulations. However, I am confident schools will still be organise fantastic sports days which pupils will enjoy and participate fully in and already I know of many that have successfully taken place.”
Some schools in Aberdeen will be making efforts to offer parents a front-row seat, albeit from the couch.
Councillor M Taqueer Malik said: “School staff are working carefully to continue following the guidance and maintain the agreed risk assessments whilst also meeting the health and wellbeing needs of our children and young people. Where opportunity allows, parents have been offered to digitally observe.”
Schools like Albyn School laid some of the groundwork for virtual crowds last year. Last May, Albyn held its entire sports day online, complete with a way for students to submit their results from different events and view a livestream of staff challenges.
Limits on space, not sports
Most of the Scottish islands are moving into level zero coronavirus restrictions. All organized sports are permitted for Under 18s at this level, as long as appropriate safety measures are in place.
Some local island authorities, such as Orkney, are still considering how to advise schools about sports days under the current guidance.
In the Western Isles, senior education officer Donald Macleod said that many school sports days in the area could look a lot like the races at Laxdale, despite the recent move to Level 0.
“In the interests of consistency, we are proposing no further changes to our guidance for schools for the remaining three weeks of term.
“Sports days and activities are permitted outdoors and no specific sports or events have been ruled in or out as all sports are permitted.”
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar schools are advised to take the following additional precautions:
- Parents and any other visitors are not permitted to attend sports day events
- Class bubbles and groupings should be maintained, wherever possible
- Schools with large rolls should consider splitting up events by stages
- Shared equipment is cleaned between uses
- Staff must not gather together
- Events should be held within the school’s own grounds, if space allows.