The impact of Covid-19 on the Assembly

Reflecting on COVID

The public health measures put in place in March 2020 in response to Covid-19 resulted in the cancellation of weekends 5 and 6 and a temporary suspension of the Assembly.

Over this period most of the Secretariat volunteered to temporarily return to the Scottish Government to assist with the pandemic response effort. Communication was maintained with members during this time and the Assembly reconvened on an online basis in September 2020.

On reconvening, it was important for members to consider the effect of the pandemic on the country and the wider world, including its possible impact on their own lives. Given its already broad nature, the Assembly remit did not have to change to take this into consideration. Minor technical amendments were made to the terms of reference and memorandum of understanding to reflect the move online, notably the move to shorter sessions over four weekends and an extended timeframe for reporting and members took part in online induction sessions prior to the Assembly reconvening online. Overall the move online was very successful with adjustments to design and the length of sessions being made to accommodate the changed approach. As ever, members rose to meet the challenge in whatever way was necessary.

"To get online, I had to borrow my 78 year old mother’s ipad! Who has to do that?! Another funny one was when I had to stop my dog barking as it was upsetting another member’s cat who was in the background in their house!"

"My sons a gamer and I’ve had to pay him £20 last weekend to stay off line to make sure I get a good signal"

 

Members continued to report high levels of satisfaction about the Assembly through the move online, although they very much missed the informal social engagement which had been such an important feature of face to face meetings.

Responding to COVID