In a world of uncertainty, we now have something that seems concrete: schools will reopen in August.

Many parents and carers will welcome this with open arms. The vast majority of pupils will be delighted to get back to the social aspect of being in the classrooms and playgrounds.

Many of our school staff, both teaching and support staff, have been working in our hubs over the last several weeks, but most of those teachers who have been working just as hard at home will welcome the chance to return.

I say ‘most’ because we will all continue to have fears about transmission of the virus and this applies especially to those with underlying health conditions.

As in every other area, the set up of what a school and a school day looks like will be very different.

The practicalities of working out this set up are enormous and whilst our officers have been working hard in advance on those plans, they are now beginning to test how they will work in practice.

There is absolutely no doubt that so many of our children and young people have missed out on their normal pattern of learning.

This is despite the best efforts of our education department, social workers and other council officers.

There have, however, been unexpected benefits that many of our young people have felt from being out of the physical school environment.

One of the key things to take on board for anyone bemoaning the loss of teaching time is that lockdown has been an incredibly stressful time and that we do not learn well when we are stressed.

Just as so many adults are sad, frightened, upset, angry and frustrated, our children and young people are too.

We need to be realistic about what they can achieve and about how they will adjust.

A return to the school environment won’t be the same as pre lockdown. We will all have to work hard to support our children and young people in this new normal.

The last week of May was Mental Health Awareness Week, with the theme of kindness. That’s a quality we should be cherishing and working to improve. We are going to need a lot of kindness going forward.

Learning comes in many forms and a key part of our curriculum in Scotland is about skills for life. What better skill to cultivate than the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes? If you can truly imagine that, then kindness comes easily.

We can teach our young people (and ourselves) that we might have something very positive from this pandemic situation.

Finally, I want to say thank you to all our teachers and learning assistants. To every member of our school support staff and all at our education department centrally for their amazing efforts.

And to every pupil and parent thank you for persevering in really difficult circumstances. I look forward to the new term in August as much as you.