Target date for full school return is delayed

School buildings in Scotland will now not reopen fully until at least 1 February after a rise in Covid cases
4th January 2021, 2:18pm
Henry Hepburn


Target date for full school return is delayed
Coronavirus: Schools In Scotland Will Not Reopen Fully Until At Least 1 February

Schools in Scotland will now not reopen fully for the face-to-face teaching of all pupils until Monday 1 February at the earliest.

The Scottish Parliament was recalled today - only the fifth time this has happened in its history - for an update on the response to the rapid spread of the new Covid-19 variant.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed the details in a statement this afternoon, during which she said she was "more concerned" about the coronavirus situation than at any stage since March.

Ms Sturgeon also said that a new Scotland-wide lockdown would start from midnight tonight and last until at least the end of January.

In England: Boris Johnson gives no guarantee on school reopening date

Quick read: Calls for teachers to work from home until pupils return

Background: Fears over school safety as Covid surges

Schools are still due to start opening from tomorrow for children of key workers who cannot work from home, and for vulnerable pupils.

The date for a full return to in-person teaching in schools will be reviewed on Monday 18 January - the date on which, until this afternoon, a full return of schools was due to take place.

Coronavirus: 'Schools are the last places we want to close'

Ms Sturgeon, when taking questions after her statement, indicated that one possibility would be to reopen primary schools and nurseries before secondary schools.

The first minister also said that work was being done on whether school and childcare staff could be made a priority for Covid-19 vaccination.

BREAKING: Schools in Scotland will remain closed to the majority of pupils until 1 February.

- will stay open for children of key workers, and vulnerable children
- applies to nurseries, primary and secondary schools

Live updates ➡

- BBC Scotland News (@BBCScotlandNews) January 4, 2021

Ms Sturgeon said the scientific community was not clear on the impact of the new variant of Covid-19 on young people.

She said: "Just as the last places we ever want to close are schools and nurseries, so it is the case that schools and nurseries will be the first places we want to reopen as we re-emerge from this latest lockdown.

"They remain our priority."

Ms Sturgeon said she was "desperate" for schools to reopen fully when it becomes safe to do so.

The first minister said the government had taken "significant steps" to expand the range of online-learning resources from the likes of e-Sgoil, and that this will be added to.

The rules on outdoor gatherings are also changing: a maximum of two people from two households will be permitted to meet outside, although children aged 11 and under will not be counted in that limit.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I know that the next few weeks will be incredibly tough. I'm sorry to ask for further sacrifices, after nine long months of them. But these sacrifices are necessary.

"And the difference between now and last March is that with the help of vaccines, we now have confidence that they will pave the way to brighter days ahead. So - for everyone's sake and safety - please stick with it and stay home."

The first minister also returned to the public messaging from the March lockdown, saying: "Stay home. Save lives. Protect the NHS."

Young people,
We teachers are much better equipped to offer you engaging digital learning than we were in March. We'll make this work.
It's natural to feel saddened and worried. Remember you are never alone and there is ALWAYS someone to talk to.

- Glen Fraser ?️‍??️‍⚧️ (@GlenJamesFraser) January 4, 2021

After the first minister's announcement, the EIS union said that "moving to remote learning is the correct decision".

General secretary Larry Flanagan said: "Whilst the education system is better prepared to deliver education remotely than during the first lockdown, challenges remain and we need to ensure that all pupils, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, can access learning on an equitable basis."

He added: "We have raised with the Scottish government the question of prioritising vaccination of school staff as a mechanism to allow school buildings to reopen for all pupils."

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