OUTSIDE Quarry Brae Primary and Parkhead Community Nursery are carefully placed social distancing stickers leading up to the front doors of the two adjoining schools.

It's the first sign that life for pupils is going to be slightly different in the coming term.

Nicola Sturgeon announced on Thursday that schools will return full time from August 11. While there is the potential for staggered start times up to August 18, Glasgow pupils will be back from August 12.

Following five months out of class, it will be a new school world for returning children and young people - but director of education Maureen McKenna says youngsters are ready for it.

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"Our young people need structure and routine and that’s the bit that has been missing from their lives," she said.

"I think a small number will be anxious but I think that’s a minority and the vast majority of young people want to come back to learn again."

Maureen is clear that school life will not be back to a pre-covid normal but she is certain enough has been done to keep young people safe.

As in Parkhead, schools around the city will have hand sanitiser stations but nothing beats thorough hand washing so hygiene routines will be built into the school day.

Doors will stay open to minimise surface touching, there will be one way routes in place and situations with large groups will have staggered start times, such as drop off and pick up, playtime and lunchtime.

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While physical distancing won't be in place for younger pupils, it will be recommended for older pupils and between all teachers.

Maureen said: "We will be encouraging teachers to keep back but it’s not always possible to maintain two metres and to teach.

"But the scientific evidence is showing children are low risk.

"Low risk from catching it and low risk for transmission and we will keep that scientific evidence under review.

"We know the virus hasn’t gone and we know we still need to be aware.

"When we balance the risks of the evidence of children and young people being low risk for transmission against the value of education, it’s about being proportionate and managing it."

The city's education boss is adamant that pupils will be involved in school changes and so held consultation sessions during the summer with youngsters from Glasgow Youth Council at John Paul Academy.

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Maureen, a former maths teacher, also taught a maths summer school at Castlemilk High School which she says was "an indulgence" to help her get back to her roots.

She said: "It just grounded me and reminded me why we do what we do and how important education is in young people’s lives.

"Those young people didn't have to come in and I was a complete stranger to them but they came in for a two hour session across four separate weeks in the pouring rain, trucking into Castlemilk High to do maths."

Online sessions have been held with Glasgow City Parents Group and there will be more sessions once children are back in class to see what has worked and what needs to improve.

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Maureen added: "We held three consultation sessions in May as I was very keen early on when we were developing our contingency plan for June to hear the views of young people.

"But also I wanted to hear their fears about coming to school, particularly when the pandemic was at its height.

"So we ran three sessions in three secondaries across the city and invited young people to take part and we spoke to them.

"Some of the young people were brilliant, coming with ideas and questions from home."

There will be pupils who are particularly vulnerable to the virus or who have vulnerable family members.

Schools will work with individuals to assess what needs they might have and come up with plans to keep them safe.

Maureen added: "At one of the consultation sessions a pupil said to me, 'I’m a diabetic, how are you going to keep me safe?'

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"It’s not about that, it’s about how we work with you so that you can keep yourself safe because you have a responsibility too to keep yourself safe."

Maureen was also keen to bust myths that have been swirling on social media about boil washing school uniforms.

This isn't, she said, necessary with parents asked to observe good hygiene. Schools, as they do already, will also be able to help out with washing uniforms where families can't quite manage.

Despite the massive disruption to schools, the education boss says there are positives to be taken from the experience.

Digital and online learning has made fast progress and a programme to roll out iPads to pupils across the city has been speeded up.

A government scheme to improve connectivity for all families will see Chrome books given out with wifi and pre-loaded cards to help narrow the gap between those with internet access and those without.

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Ms McKenna said: "We have made huge progress in online and digital learning but we are still not where we want to be so we’ve got progress to make.

"We do need to take the positives out of it that not all learning takes place in school.

"A lot of our senior phase pupils have been doing fabulous online learning and I think we want to continue that too."

Older pupils will have the opportunity to take part in what the education department is calling "flipped learning" where some lessons are in school and others are online.

Around 100 Glasgow teachers have been working on a programme looking at the senior phase of the curriculum and seeing where lessons can be pre-recorded.

Pupils will be able to access preloaded lessons that link to their work in school.

And the scheme will be useful if localised school closures happen in response to local outbreaks with closures lead by public health bosses, rather than education.

While some pupils will be raring to return, others will find the transition much harder.

The city's educational psychologists have provided guidance to support staff in helping young people with additional support needs.

Teachers will also have in-school wellbeing supports.

Maureen said: "Nurture is at the heart of what we do.

"Our plan is called Recovery, Resilience and Reconnection. We need to recover, our young people need the resilience to be able to cope and they need to be able to reconnect with their friends and school.

"We are delighted our schools are going back."