Nicola Sturgeon confirms that Scottish schools will reopen on MONDAY

Nicola Sturgeon confirms that Scottish schools will reopen on MONDAY – two weeks before pupils are expected to return in England

  • Under the plans, all children in early learning and childcare would return
  • Pupils in Primary 1 to Primary 3 would also be allowed back into school
  • So would those in the senior phase of secondary school, it is suggested 

What are each of the UK’s nations planning? 

ENGLAND: Boris Johnson is due to announce lockdown-easing roadmap, including details on phased return of schools, on February 22. 

SCOTLAND: Nicola Sturgeon confirmed Scottish schools will start to reopen on February 22.    

WALES: Primary schools will begin the process of reopening next Monday as Mark Drakeford announces a ‘review’ of the lockdown on Friday. 

NORTHERN IRELAND: Schools remain closed to most pupils until at least March 8. Stormont is discussing what to do about general restrictions. 

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that Scottish schoolchildren will return to class from next Monday, a full fortnight before their English counterparts.

The First Minister said that a phased reopening of classrooms will begin from February 22.  

Under the plans announced at the start of February and confirmed at Holyrood this afternoon, pupils in Primary 1 to Primary 3 would also be allowed back into school first, as would those in the senior phase of secondary school.

All children under school age in early learning and childcare would also return.

The move heaps pressure on Boris Johnson to confirm classes in England will begin again on March 8. 

He is widely expected to confirm this when he unveils a ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown next Monday, but questions remain over how many children will immediately return.

Ms Sturgeon said that after Monday, further returns to school would not happen before March 15, given the need to properly assess the ramifications of the return in phase one.

The First Minister said: ‘I want to be clear, though, that the need to properly assess the impact of this limited reopening means we think it unlikely, at this stage, that there will be any further return to school before 15 March.

‘As we consider these issues, we are of course doing everything we can to ensure that schools are as safe as possible for children, and for the education workforce.’

Senior phase pupils, teachers and school staff will be given lateral flow testing twice a week from next week.

The Scottish Government hopes to produce a new road map out of lockdown next week, Ms Sturgeon added. 

She said: ‘It will set out as far as possible the conditions that need to be met, in terms of the data, for us to start lifting restrictions.

‘And it will detail the broad order of priority for reopening, including what a return to a geographic levels approach might look like in due course.’

Setting out an example of what the framework may say, Ms Sturgeon said it would likely advise Scots not to book Easter holidays, but added that ‘staycations’ during the summer may be allowed depending on the data.    

The First Minister said that a phased reopening of classrooms will begin from February 22.

Boris Johnson is expected to reveal his plans to reopen schools in England on February 22

How will PM’s road map look? 

The road map for easing lockdown will be unveiled on Monday, setting out the order in which rules will be lifted and the target dates. Here’s what we know so far:

  • The only firm date is March 8, when schools will open.
  • Socialising is the next priority. The plan is to allow individuals to go out with anyone from their own household, for example for a family picnic, or for individuals to see one person from another household.
  • Outdoor sports including golf and tennis may be allowed at some point next month. Ministers are also keen to open leisure centres and gyms but this may take longer.
  • High street stores could open at the end of next month, or the start of April. Hairdressers and beauty salons will follow later.
  • Pubs and restaurants could open in April or May but possibly with customers served at outdoor tables at first.
  • Rules on staying local and travelling in the UK for holidays will probably be eased in May.

Speaking at her daily briefing yesterday, Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish plans would only go ahead if the transmission rate of Covid-19 remained low.

The First Minister said: ‘We will look at the up-to-date data and take a final decision on that tomorrow, as we always said we would.

‘I am very, very, very keen to go ahead with that if at all possible.’

The First Minister said older pupils will only be able to return to ensure practical work important to achieving qualifications is completed, and only between 5 per cent and 8 per cent of any school’s roll should return.  

Ms Sturgeon said her cabinet would also consider an ‘indicative timetable’ for the next groups of pupils who could return to school.

However, she also warned that now was not the time to expect other lockdown restrictions to be eased.

Dr Liz Cameron, director and chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: ‘The vaccination rollout has been significant across Scotland and the UK, and with vaccination milestones being reached, we now need to understand the conditions at which the economy can begin to reopen.

‘We understand that setting specific dates can be challenging given the unpredictable nature of the virus. However, businesses need to know the trigger points over the next three months that will deliver the reopening of the economy.

‘Only a clear plan to reopen will give businesses the confidence to plan, hire and invest. Without this, businesses and livelihoods face catastrophe.’    

Schoolchildren in Wales are also expected to return from February 22. 

The seven-day incidence rate in Wales has fallen to below 100 cases per 100,000 people for the first time in ‘many, many months’, while the test positivity rate is now under 10 per cent.

Health minister Vaughan Gething said yesterday that that the ‘majority of headroom’ created by the improved situation in Wales would be used to return children aged seven and under to face-to-face teaching from February 22.

However, schools in Northern Ireland are expected to remain closed until march 8 in line with England. 

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is set to end tough restrictions next month that mean people can only leave their homes for work, exercise or to buy essentials.

It comes as NHS England boss Sir Simon Stevens yesterday vowed to double the number of jabs being given to one million vaccines a day in order for the Government to hit its next target.

As part of the first major easing, ministers plan to overhaul the rules to allow socialising outside from as soon as March 8. Outdoor leisure activities, including golf and tennis, will possibly be permitted before the end of March.

As well as transmission risks being low as they are played outside, officials believe the public may be spurred into getting fit if the pursuits are among the first things to be allowed. 

It came as a study claimed there was no evidence having schools open drives the spread of coronavirus in the wider community in the UK, SAGE advisers have found.

In a study of pupil and teacher absences caused by positive Covid tests, researchers said confirmed infections in schools did not lead to bigger outbreaks.

Instead, they said there were small signs that the opposite was true, and that schools tended to get worse hit when the cases around them had rocketed.

Many pupils have been home-schooling for almost all of the past year, except for a brief period between September and December before the second wave spiralled out of control. 

Source: Read Full Article