A TOTAL of 29 children's activity centres to care for children of category one key workers went into operation across Fife today (Tuesday).

The hubs will provide childcare so that vital work of the key workers can continue.

An update by Fife Council Education chief Carrie Lindsay stressed the centres were to be used as a "last resort".

"These are frontline, health and care workers, directly supporting coronavirus response or supporting life-threatening, emergency work," explained Ms Lindsay.

"These centres are there to provide essential childcare for key workers, if they need it, in order for them to continue to work.

"Please be aware, this service is for children where both parents are key workers, or where there is a lone parent who is a keyworker. If parents have any other options for childcare when they are working, they should use these.

"These centres should be a last resort for parents who have no other choice. You may feel it will be better to keep your children at home.

"You must have already registered with a centre before your child can attend. You will have received a link to the registration form if you are a category 1 key worker. If you have any concerns discuss these with your school.

"We have a limited amount of space within our centres as the children need to be in smaller groups and spaced out to keep them safe, but we will be following all public health guidance within our centres.

"There will be clear instructions for children when they arrive at the centre, on how they can keep themselves and others safe.

"Our centres will only be providing childcare for nursery and primary school children at this time. We will review this over the next few days for other key workers."

Ms Lindsay said children with additional support needs whose parents are both key workers, will also be supported within the Children’s Activity Centres.

“Our Children and Families team have been working very closely with our headteachers," she said. "They are making sure that all those children who may be especially vulnerable by not attending school will continue to have a member of staff looking out for them.

"The welfare of our children is a priority at all times and our staff will remain in contact with those children.

"I want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to all our staff for the work they have put in over the last couple of weeks. Many of them have gone above and beyond what should be expected of them – preparing work packs, gathering SQA evidence and above all preparing our activity centres.

“We have had a huge surge of goodwill and support from our staff and we have many volunteers willing to staff these hubs for this first phase. I hope you will all support me in thanking them.

“I’d also like to thank all of you for your patience and understanding as we face a new way of living and working. We will keep updating you as new information comes in.”

As previously reported, no meals will be prepared in schools this week – other than for those attending Children's Activity Centres. For children registered for free school meals a payment will be received this week.

“We had to take the difficult decision yesterday not to open our schools for free school meals," added Ms Lindsay. "We understand fully the impact that can have on some of our children and the pressure this can put on families who are struggling financially. This decision was taken following advice from Public Health Scotland.

“We have now managed to set up an alternative arrangement. On Wednesday a payment will be made to all families who are already registered for FME/school clothing grant and for any P1-3s registered for free school milk.

"Check here if you think you might be eligible but not already registered fife.gov.uk/schoolbenefits. If you have any difficulty accessing or filling in this form, please contact your headteacher/education.services@fife.gov.uk/ Online: Contact Council Tax Enquiries online; or 03451 551155."