Wishart writes to Education Secretary on guidance for island students

Shetland’s MSP Beatrice Wishart has today written to the Education Secretary, John Swinney, to ask him to address an anomaly in guidance for students that currently prevents islanders returning home in the same way that those on the mainland can.

Extra measures were imposed on the student population last week after a series of COVID-19 outbreaks across university campuses. Students who moved to attend university are now considered to be a “new household”, and as a result are not allowed to return home.

This has been partially rolled back, with guidance published over the weekend offering a “reasonable excuse” defence for those who need to travel home. This extends to students who are self-isolating, but states that public transport should not be used.  

Ms Wishart has now written to the Education Secretary to point out the obvious problem this creates for students from the isles, and to ask that island students are fully considered in guidance going forward.  

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Real risk childminder services "won't see the other side" of the pandemic without support

Responding to the latest snapshot survey by the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA), Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP has warned of the potential for a “near wipeout” of childminders in Scotland.

The SCMA survey found:

  • almost half of childminding businesses do not believe they will remain financially viable for more than six months without financial support or an increase in business;
  • around 80% of childminders have experienced a ‘significant reduction’ or ‘reduction’ in children in their settings linked to Scottish Government guidance that parents should work from home;

and childminders are also experiencing an increase in operating costs and additional hours to meet the requirements of COVID-19 operating guidance.

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Wishart urges First Minister to call a halt to air traffic control centralisation

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has today urged the First Minister to call a halt to HIAL’s air traffic control centralisation. The intervention at First Minister’s Questions today follows publication of a report by Prospect showing the project will cost island economies £18m.

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Tories and SNP waste time with sham education debate

Commenting following the debate in the Scottish Parliament on education and independence Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart commented:

“Instead of using their time to stand up for those at the hard end of the SNP’s decisions, the Tory motion today leans into the constitutional divide. It offers nothing constructive.

“This could have been an opportunity to generate parliamentary consensus or for opposition parties to force the pace of this minority government.

“For example, getting the rollout of funded childcare back on track, emboldening the Pupil Equity Fund, strengthening testing for staff and pupils so that their return isn’t put in jeopardy, and getting counsellors, educational psychologists and support staff in schools to help tackle the developing mental health crisis.

“But instead, it has been used to play the political game that the Tories and the SNP enjoy so much. As a result there will be no grown up decisions in the Scottish Parliament today.”


24 September: COVID-19 Update

National Updates

Following an increase in cases in COVID-19 cases across Scotland, the following changes were announced by the First Minister in the Scottish Parliament yesterday. These measures will be reviewed after three weeks.

Inside people’s homes (from 23 September 2020)

  • Do not meet people from any other households in your home or another person’s home socially, unless they are in your extended household
  • These rules also apply to children
  • Children whose parents do not live in the same household can move between homes, as can non-cohabiting couples
  • Very limited exemptions apply for childcare, and for tradespeople
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Wishart comments on potential for island specific approach to lockdown rules

Commenting on the potential for an islands specific approach to lockdown restrictions, Shetland’s MSP Beatrice Wishart has said that plans must ensure that public safety is “always paramount”.

Ms Wishart and will soon meet with the Health Secretary Jeane Freeman and the National Clinical Director Jason Leitch alongside Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur.

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Education Secretary must ask OECD to publish interim education report before 2021 election

Scottish Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Beatrice Wishart is calling on the Education Secretary to formally request the OECD publish an interim report into Scottish education before the 2021 elections, following questioning at Holyrood’s Education Committee today.

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Isles representatives hold first in-person surgery since start of pandemic

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, and Shetland MSP, Beatrice Wishart, will hold a joint constituency advice surgery on Friday 18 September in Islesburgh Community Centre in Lerwick. To ensure public safety and in compliance with government COVID-19 rules, the surgery will practise necessary social distancing with regular hand hygiene, face masks and use of plastic screens. Demand for slots at the surgery has been high and constituents are advised that appointments are required to ensure social distancing. Appointments are available with either Mr Carmichael or Ms Wishart.

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Wishart seeks assurances that access to Protect Scotland app will be expanded

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has today sought assurances that the Protect Scotland app will continue to be developed so more people are able to download it. The contract tracing app is currently unavailable to some people with older smartphones.

Speaking virtually in Parliament, Ms Wishart noted that some people are frustrated they can’t download the Protect Scotland app because they don’t have the most up to date technology. Ms Wishart asked the Health Secretary if the government is working to include those who are currently excluded so everyone can do their bit to help control the spread of COVID-19

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11 September: COVID-19 Update

National Updates

On 10 September the Scottish Government formally reviewed coronavirus restrictions. Scotland is to remain in Phase 3 of the route map out of lockdown.

A recent rise in coronavirus cases means the following measures have been put in place:

  • Group gatherings will only be allowed to a maximum of six people from two households in both indoor and outdoor settings, with limited exemptions (becoming law from Monday 14 September)
  • face coverings must be worn in hospitality settings, apart from during the service of food and drink, with hospitality staff following the similar rules as retail staff (from Monday 14 September)
  • up to 20 people will still be able to attend funerals, weddings and civil partnerships ceremonies, with the limit permitted for wakes and receptions rising to 20 in line with this, as long as they take place in regulated venues like hotels with strict guidance in place (from Monday 14 September)
  • route map moves expected from Monday (14 September) are given a new indicative date of Monday 5 October 2020

The following activities have an indicative re-start date of 5 October:

  • Indoor sports courts for adults and young people (12+) for contact sports.
  • Indoor soft play can re-open - following guidance (e.g. no ball pools, enhanced hygiene).
  • Certain outdoor live events (e.g. those involving focussed standing) - with physical distancing, enhanced hygiene, and restricted numbers - following guidance.
  • Certain indoor live events (seated and ambulant) - with physical distancing, enhanced hygiene and restricted numbers - following guidance.
  • Other indoor entertainment venues - following guidance with physical distancing requirements (e.g. theatres, music venues). Not nightclubs.
  • Stadia - limited re-opening - following guidance (e.g. physical distancing, restricted numbers) - with option for testing on earlier dates.

You can find the updated route map here.

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