Return to school buildings: What John Swinney said

The education secretary led the Scottish government's Covid briefing today, before return of many pupils on Monday

Henry Hepburn

Return to school buildings: what John Swinney said

Education secretary John Swinney led the Scottish government's daily briefing today, before the return of many pupils to school buildings on Monday.

Here are the key points he addressed:

  • At-home, lateral-flow testing for Covid-19 will be made available twice a week for staff and students at schools.
  • Around 2,500 schools have now received testing kits.
  • Testing will be “entirely voluntary”.
  • The “key risk” from reopening schools is not the transmission of the virus within them, but that opening them up again could lead to more contact between adults


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  • Parents should continue to work from home, even after their children have returned to school or nursery: “Don’t use this return as an opportunity to meet up with other parents or friends,” Mr Swinney said.

  • Part of the reason for P1-3 children returning next week is that they have been finding “the greatest of challenges with remote learning”, compared with other age groups who have found home-based learning less difficult.
  • When asked why informal indoor playdates involving as few as two children are still being advised against despite the return of many pupils, Mr Swinney said the classroom is a more “organised environment whereas there is less certainty over who would be coming into contact with each other if playdates were allowed”.
  • The Scottish government is launching a new campaign to remind people of the importance of following coronavirus guidance, which “emphasises the need for all of us to stay on our guard, even as our vaccination programme is rolled out”.

Mr Swinney, who is also deputy first minister, said: “This partial return of education is an important milestone.”

He added: “The use of testing is a very important addition to the other safety mitigations that are already in place.”

Meanwhile, it has also emerged today that new students will not be admitted to Scottish dental schools in 2021.

Universities Scotland said the decision had been made after final-year students were unable to graduate as a result of a lack of practical clinical experience during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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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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