Coronavirus: Scottish schools to reopen from 11 August

Children in Scotland will return to school nurseries and schools from 11 August, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

The Scottish First Minister said that some schools may use a more phased return, but that all children in Scotland should be back in school by 18 August.

Children under 12 will not need to socially distance, but staff and parents should do so with each other, for example at school drop-offs.

Announcing the reopening, Ms Sturgeon said, ‘It is a moral and educational imperative that we get children back to school as soon as is safely possible. 

‘In fact, a key reason for our cautious approach to lockdown over the last two months, and over the next few weeks, is that determination to drive the virus down and keep prevalence low, so that schools can reopen safely in August.  

‘I am, therefore, very pleased to confirm today that schools will return from 11 August.’

She added, ‘Given how long children have been out of school, some local authorities may opt for a phased return over the first few days.

‘But we expect all pupils to be at school full-time from 18 August at the latest.

‘Now, I realise that earlier confirmation of this would have provided more certainty for schools and parents to get ready for the new term, but we had to be sure – very sure – that the latest evidence supported this decision.’

As Scotland eased out of lockdown, fully outdoor settings and childminders were the first childcare providers allowed to reopen on 3 June, followed by private and voluntary nurseries on 15 July.

Scotland has provided £11m in childcare grants to support nurseries to reopen.

New guidance has also been published, which will come into effect from 10 August.

The guidance, developed with the Education Recovery Group, has been published to support local authorities, teachers and parents to prepare for the new term and minimise the risks of Covid-19 transmission through the application of a number of infection mitigation measures.

Every school will carry out a risk assessment and put in place enhanced hygiene and cleaning arrangements.

In line with scientific advice received from the Covid-19 Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues, primary pupils will not need to physically distance from each other.

The guidance states that generally on the school estate physical distancing between pupils will not be required, but should be maintained between secondary school pupils, where possible.

The core public health measures that underpin reopening of services are:

  • enhanced hand hygiene and cleaning practice
  • limiting children’s contacts
  • maximising the use of outdoor spaces
  • physical distancing between adults and older children in the setting including parents at drop-off and pick-up times
  • active engagement with Test and Protect

The Scottish Government also announced that an extra £30 million will be allocated to local authorities to bring in even more teachers, building on the £45 million already announced.

The £75 million would be enough to recruit around 1,400 extra teachers to support education recovery and accelerate progress in achieving excellence and equity for Scotland’s children, ministers said.

EIS union general secretary Larry Flanagan said, ‘The EIS believes more could be done to reassure school communities around safety if smaller classes were introduced as the norm, employing the many unemployed teachers currently seeking work. The additional funding announced is welcome, therefore, but this needs to translate into smaller class grouping to support physical distancing amongst pupils.

‘Smaller classes would also provide real extra support to pupils, who we know will have suffered emotionally as well as educationally as a result of lockdown. Reopening schools is only the start of education recovery.’

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