Swinney: Mass 8 March return not possible in Scotland

England plans full 8 March return but this could not be 'clinically authorised' in Scotland, says John Swinney

Henry Hepburn

Coronavirus: Mass 8 March school return not possible in Scotland, says John Swinney

Schools in England are now preparing for an expected full return of pupils from 8 March, but Scotland's education secretary has said this could not be permitted north of the border.

Asked this morning if it would be "dangerous" to send everyone back on that date, John Swinney said: "I wouldn't have clinical authorisation to do that."

Mr Swinney, who is also deputy first minister, added: "We will move as quickly as we possibly can do [in the wider reopening of school buildings] but we have to do it within the scientific and clinical advice that is available to us."

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The education secretary made his comments on BBC radio's Good Morning Scotland today, as many pupils returned to school buildings across the country. Last night it emerged that the UK government would press ahead with plans for all pupils to return to school buildings on 8 March.

Coronavirus: Back-to-school plans in Scotland

Earlier this month, Tes Scotland revealed that remote learning could continue until at least the middle of March.

Then, on 16 February, the Scottish government confirmed a return date of 22 February for pupils in early learning and childcare and the first three years of primary  with some senior secondary students also able to return, for essential work in practical subjects  but first minister Nicola Sturgeon said other pupils were unlikely to return until Monday 15 March at the earliest.

In the BBC interview this morning, Mr Swinney was hopeful that the current lockdown would be the last.

He said: "We want to make sure it’s the last lockdown, we want to avoid another lockdown as much as we possibly can do, because the lockdown is having a severe impact on every part of our society, in particular on the wellbeing of individuals, and we are very, very concerned about that.

"Essentially we want to make sure we do the right things just now to suppress the virus to as low a level as we possibly can do in society. We’ve made huge progress."

Ms Sturgeon is likely to provide an update on the return of many pupils to school today at the Scottish government's daily coronavirus briefing this lunchtime.

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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