Tranent head says sorry after children ate their lunch outside in the rain

A headteacher has apologised to parents after children were sent outside to eat their lunch as temperatures plunged and torrential rain fell last week.

By Marie Sharp
Thursday, 1st October 2020, 12:30 pm
Windygoul Primary
Windygoul Primary

Older pupils at Windygoul Primary School, Tranent, sat on the ground under a shelter in the playground after they were sent out of the classroom to eat their lunch.

They were then left outside in the playground for the rest of their lunch hour as icy rain poured down during stormy weather.

Angry parents took to social media to raise concerns about the decision to send some of the pupils outside despite the weather on Thursday last week.

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Headteacher Dianne MacKenzie apologised to parents for any “anxiety” caused by the decision.

In an email to parents sent out this week Ms MacKenzie said: “We appreciate that the decision to allow some children to eat outside under the shelter last Thursday has caused some concerns.

“As the weather was fair at the start of the lunch period our aim was to give the children a break from their classroom, but we apologise for any anxiety this has caused among our parent community.”

Ms MacKenzie said children were eating their lunch in their classrooms as the dining hall is not being used under current restrictions and there was a ‘choice’ to eat outside, however last Thursday it is understood the choice was made by teachers.

Ms MacKenzie said: “Moving forward, over the autumn and winter months, the children will eat their lunches at their desks inside before going outside to play, weather permitting.“Please be assured that they will continue to be given ample time to eat their lunch.”

One mum said her son came home after school and said he had been told to eat outdoors despite the sharp fall in temperature across East Lothian last Thursday which saw heavy downpours of rain sweep the county at lunchtime.

She said: “Some children were kept in to eat and others sent outside, there is a shelter but they had to sit on the concrete ground.

“Those that were indoors were given ten minutes to eat their lunch and then sent out in the pouring rain, they got soaked and didn’t have a change of clothes.

“They’re children not animals, I wouldn’t have let a dog eat outdoors in that weather.”

Another mum, whose two children are pupils at the school, added: “Lunches were soggy from the rain and they were outside in the cold and wet.

“Children are being sent home if they have a cold until they can be tested for Covid, then they come back, are sent outside and get another cold, its a never ending cycle.

“It’s very worrying for parents to hear this when we are heading into winter.”

A spokesperson for East Lothian Council said: “As the dining hall and communal areas are currently closed in the interests of safety during the Covid-19 pandemic, children from older year groups have either been eating their lunch within the classroom or , if weather permits, outside.

“On Thursday last week it was decided that children could eat outdoors as the weather was fair.

“Unfortunately there was a deterioration in the weather conditions during the lunch break but this was after most children had eaten. The school has apologised to families.

“Our schools have carried out a lot of work to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic and continually review procedures with the health and safety of our pupils and staff being the top priority.

“Arrangements until now have been based on late summer weather conditions. As we move into autumn and winter the option to eat outdoors will no longer be appropriate and all children will eat in their classes, and remain in that room over the break if the weather is poor.

“Having access to fresh air at lunch and break is important and we make every effort to allow children time in the playground in appropriate weather.

“Families are encouraged to send their children to school in all-weather clothing for this reason.

“The school provides regular updates to parents and has clarified these arrangements in its most recent letter. Everyone is grateful to the families for their support.”

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