Edinburgh City Council's controversial Covid-19 school policy 'deeply concerning' says councillor
Edinburgh council has been accused of putting tourists' needs before residents' and creating inconsistent and confusing Covid rules which blur the policy laid out by the Scottish Government.
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The criticism came after council heads cancelled Broughton High’s planned theatre trip to see Beauty and the Beast on Wednesday.
The event was cancelled less than a week before it was due to take place, leaving more than 60 schoolchildren disappointed and angering councillors and parents.
A spokesperson from the local authority told the Evening News that it had no option but to cancel the trip to keep in line with current government guidelines.
But local councillor Hal Osler said the council’s ruling on school theatre visits sends a “very worrying mixed message” about Covid measures, especially following the large number of tourists currently enjoying the city’s varied activities.
Ms Osler said: “I am beyond disappointed and deeply concerned that the council has taken the decision to cancel planned school excursions to the theatre.
"This not only has caused massive upset to many who were looking forward to a sense of normality but also sends possibly a very worrying mixed message that theatres and events are okay for tourists but not for our own residents.”
The council’s reasoning has also been called "utter nonsense" by parents who say the decision contradicts the council's previous decision to allow tourists into the city to attend theatre shows, sporting matches and entertainment venues.
Parents with children at Broughton High have asked the local authority why their children are being restricted when tourists are allowed to come and go as they please.
Fiona Mcdonald has a 14-year-old daughter at the school who was looking forward to attending the show.
The frustrated mother went on to say that if “hoards” of rugby supporters can come into the city’s stadiums and pubs then surely schoolchildren should be allowed to attend shows.
Cancelled trip unavoidable says council
Responding to critics, the council said keeping schools open is their priority and this was why the theatre trip was cancelled.
The council’s spokesperson said: “We really appreciate that young people and their families are disappointed by this decision but it’s very important that we keep following public health guidance to help keep everyone safe.
"We risk assess all educational activities, including excursions, in line with national guidance and do not currently approve theatre trips where there is also a public audience, and/or the number of pupils is classed as a gathering.
"We realise this will be disappointing for our young people as we know how much they enjoy and benefit from going on trips like these. However we are still seeing a high number of Covid cases in our schools and we have to do everything we can as a local authority to minimise the transmission of the virus.
"After all the disruption our young people have experienced due to the pandemic learning in school with their peers is a priority and ensures we continue to keep pupils and staff safe and more importantly our schools open.
"We’re currently making sure that everyone is refunded quickly for the shows booked and our schools will still be carrying out many and varied festive activities for young people of all ages across the city.”