The National:

NOBODY wants to be in this situation, but Nicola Sturgeon did the right thing when she confirmed that schools would remain closed to most pupils until at least February.

The usual crowd of cranks, conspiracists - and even a Labour Lord - will of course be furious, but there is such a thing as upsetting all the right people. The First Minister took the only responsible course of action in an attempt to provide as much stability as possible in these horrendously uncertain times.

Of course this all means the return of online learning, a prospect which I know will leave lots of parents (and plenty of teachers) feeling pretty anxious. With that in mind, and for whatever it's worth, here’s some advice for the next few weeks and, quite possibly, months.

READ MORE: Scotland's nurseries and schools to remain closed until February

First of all, I think it’s really important that we put kids first and don’t worry too much about "lost learning". No matter what age they are, their schoolwork is not more important than their wellbeing. The most important thing is making them feel as secure and loved as possible – we shouldn’t lose sight of that. Young people are living through this pandemic too and while in some ways I think they’ve adapted more successfully than the rest of us, they’re still under huge pressure.

If looking after your child means ditching the online classes for a day to read stories, or go and throw rocks in the river, or sit on the couch watching Spider-man and eating ice cream for lunch, then that’s absolutely fine.

As someone who has been teaching online all year, trust me: it is a huge amount of work for teachers. All their planning and materials need to be redesigned to suit this alternative model – it definitely is not just a case of doing what we always do but in front of a webcam.

Hours and hours of live video lessons might look like good online learning but it’s actually a recipe for disaster, leaving teachers with no time for anything else and, in many cases, excluding the most vulnerable. Teachers will be doing their absolute best for your kids but this isn’t going to look like education in normal times.

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We need to resist the urge to impose national guidelines on schools’ approaches to online learning. I fully understand why people might think it would be better to try to establish some sort of universal "entitlement", perhaps focused on a set number of hours of live video classes, or deadlines for the return of student work, but it won’t work. Schools in different places, with different catchments, using different resources, and with different staffing situations, will take different approaches. This is a good thing and will allow school staff to maximise the quality of education they can provide right now.

I say it all the time but please: trust teachers to do their jobs, and remember that they are also human beings with their own pressures and their own families to take care of.

As far as teachers are concerned, it is absolutely vital that you all set clear boundaries and stick to them. When working at home it’s more important than ever to separate your job from your real life, so don’t be reading emails while you’re trying to make dinner or responding to Teams messages at 11 o’clock at night. Do what you can, when you can, if you can, and remember – you’re going to be absolutely no use to your students or anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first.

This is really, really hard for everyone. For most of us this has been by far the most difficult year of our lives. Some of us have lost people we love. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Every single person is struggling, and trying to do their best – especially where kids are concerned – and we all need to try to remember that as we struggle through this latest period of adversity. Now more than ever, we need to stick together.