PUPILS in Dumbarton and the Vale will go back to school this week for the first time since March – but only for a single day.

Primary, secondary and pre-school youngsters start returning to the classroom from Wednesday, August 12.

But West Dunbartonshire Council is adopting a 'staggered return' approach to help pupils settle back into their routine, with each year group spending only a single day in school this week – meaning schools won't be full until Monday, August 17.

A council spokesperson said: “It is important that we make the return to education as smooth as possible for our new and returning pupils.

"The three day phased return will support children and young people to be welcomed back in smaller groups and give them time to settle into the learning and teaching environment again.

“This soft start will also allow children and young people time to familiarise themselves with the new health and safety guidelines and hygiene routines which will keep everyone safe.”

New rules are in place across the area's schools, with pupils and staff alike asked to use improved hand-washing facilities and cleaning taking place within buildings during the day.

No children in any school will be expected to wear PPE, though staff will have access to protective equipment where necessary.

The council has also reassured pupils who use council-supplied transport that this will resume as normal, with no social distancing measures in place.

In addition, some schools will have staggered lunch and intervals, as well as staggered start and finish times, to reduce the number of children arriving and leaving at one time.

The council has also introduced new arrangements for early learning and childcare (ELCC) facilities.

A leaflet issued online by the council states: “Early years guidance advises there is no requirement to physically distance whilst caring for younger children.

“ELCC staff will work with groups and make maximum use of outdoor space.

"Our ELCC workers will still need to physically distance from their colleagues, parents and carers when collecting children, and arrangements will be in place to stagger drop off and pick up times to help ensure this guidance can be followed.”

Children who were previously advised to shield were told at the end of last month that they would be able to return to school, unless they have been advised not to do so by their GP or another medical professional.