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Back-to-school advice updated by Scottish Government in wake of new Covid restrictions

By John Davidson

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Educations Secretary John Swinney.
Educations Secretary John Swinney.

The Scottish Government says it aims to have all children back in schools for face-to-face learning from January 18.

It has updated its guidance on the phased reopening of schools after the extended Christmas holidays.

It comes after the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Saturday that mainland Scotland, including the Highlands, would enter tier four Covid restrictions from Boxing Day to help contain a new strain of the coronavirus.

The government says that schools will reopen for childcare purposes in the first week of term for the children of key workers and the most vulnerable children only, with the guidance setting out who this applies to.

However, for the majority of pupils the holiday period will effectively be extended until January 11 and learning will take place online from January 11-15.

The measures will be kept under regular review and children who are eligible for free school meals will continue to receive them during this period.

Education Secretary John Swinney said: “These exceptional phased reopening arrangements are being put in place in light of the latest developments in the path of the virus. They are designed to allow an assessment of community transmission after the festive period.

“Schools that planned to open this week should follow their existing end-of-term arrangements. This decision has been taken because we judge that current levels of prevalence in Scotland remain safe for schools to open.

“After that, assuming we are confident we have the virus under control, we aim to reopen schools more fully. Until then, schools will go online only except for the children of key workers and the most vulnerable.

“This is a challenging time for our school staff and pupils. They have worked incredibly hard to ensure that our education system operates as normally as possible. Once again, I want to put on record my sincere thanks for their tremendous efforts.”

The updated guidance can be found here.

This supplements the existing guidance - here - on reducing risks in schools.

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