Phased return of schools possible, says Sturgeon

If it's possible to get pupils in some areas back before others, that may be what happens, says Scotland's first minister
5th January 2021, 5:39pm
Tes Reporter

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Phased return of schools possible, says Sturgeon

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Coronavirus: Phased Return Of Schools Possible, Says First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Some pupils could return to school earlier than others, Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said.

Yesterday Ms Sturgeon announced that Scotland would go into lockdown for the rest of the month, prompting a move to online learning for most school pupils until at least Monday 1 February.

However, when it came to the return to school, she said it would "not necessarily be a binary decision to open or close" and if it proved possible to get some pupils back ahead of other pupils, that is what would happen.


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Ms Sturgeon suggested that primaries might come back - if safe to do so - before secondaries.

And today, she added that pupils in different council areas might return before others, depending on the prevalence of the virus.

However, at her first coronavirus daily briefing this year, Ms Sturgeon emphasised that these were just possibilities and her comments should "not be taken as a definite statement of intent".

Coronavirus: Primary schools could reopen before secondaries

She said: "Getting schools open, as opposed to them being essentially closed as they are right now, is not necessarily going to be binary.

"That should not be taken as a definite statement of intent, but we will consider if we can get primary schools back even if we don't think it's possible to get secondary schools back.

"Can we get some schools back?

"That would apply to the regional approach as well, if we do think we could get schools in parts of the country back but not others - we don't want the areas where they could be back held back by the areas where it's not safe."

Ms Sturgeon said it was still the Scottish government's intention to get children back to school by 1 February, but she admitted this may not be possible if the levels of coronavirus continue to increase in the way they currently are.

"If that's not possible, we will absolutely be trying to get as many children back to school, in as many schools and as many parts of the country, as we possibly can," she said.

Earlier in the briefing, Scotland's national clinical director, Professor Jason Leitch, said much remained unknown about the transmission of the new Covid variant among young people and it would take time to look through the data.

One complication, he said, was that in areas where the new strain had been prevalent, schools were open so it could be that young people were more likely to get it because of their age - or it could just be that they were out and about and "around the virus".

However, he added that it was clear the virus was more transmissible and is probably transmitted more easily among 17-year-olds "just as it does if you are 30".

"There is no evidence that it transmits more easily if you are 4 or 5 and in nursery school, but we simply don' t know," he said.

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