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New Covid cases in Thurso East as Nicola Sturgeon says some pupils will return to school next week

By John Davidson

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that some pupils will return to schools from Monday as cases of coronavirus continued to fall.

The First Minister announced to parliament on Tuesday that the Scottish Government's plan to see young children and some senior pupils back in the classroom would go ahead.

Children in P1-P3 as well as those in early learning and childcare (ELC) will return to full-time education in classrooms while a "very small cohort" of senior phase learners will be allowed into schools to undertake practical work in some subjects.

But she warned that the decision meant living with some other restrictions for longer – with other pupils not expected to return to class until at least mid-March.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I am pleased to confirm that, in line with the advice of our expert group, this first phase of the reopening of schools will go ahead as planned on Monday.

"We will need to monitor the impact of this change very carefully before taking any further decisions.

"However, I hope we will be able to set out the second phase of school reopening in two weeks’ time.

"I want to be clear though, to give parents as much clarity as possible at this stage, 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 March 15."

Meanwhile, Public Health Scotland's dashboard showed that Thurso East had four new coronavirus cases between February 7 and 13, the latest seven-day period for which figures were available.

The national agency's interactive dashboard has a map giving the number of positive cases in specific Scottish neighbourhoods, seven of which are in Caithness.

If a neighbourhood has fewer than three positive cases the number is presented as "0-2".

The county's six other neighbourhoods – Caithness North East, Caithness North West, Caithness South, Thurso West, Wick North and Wick South – all came into this category based on tests from the same period, meaning there could have been zero, one or two positive cases in each.

Across the Highlands, there were 135 positive tests in the seven-day period, giving a seven-day positive rate per 100,000 population of 57.2.

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