Secondary school pupils should maintain two-metre social distancing on their return to the classroom, experts have advised the Scottish Government.
The measure is among tougher restrictions recommended by the Scottish Government’s advisory group on education ahead of the phased return to schools.
As well as on school grounds, it should also apply on school buses, the group said.
Education Secretary John Swinney said the latest advice is an “important scientific and clinical update”.
An updated advisory note, from the group on mitigations to minimise coronavirus transmission during the phased return to in-person learning, states: “As an additional protective measure, two-metre distancing should be put in place at the current time for secondary-aged pupils, in addition to continuing to be in place for staff in secondary schools.
“Physical distancing requirements in primary schools remain unchanged: two-metre distancing between adults not from the same household should be maintained. There should also be two-metre distancing between adults and primary aged children whenever possible.
“In line with the strengthened advice on two-metre physical distancing in secondary schools, it will also be necessary to ensure two-metre distancing on school transport for secondary schools, recognising that this may not be possible in the case of school taxis or planes.”
The group said “appropriate support” should be provided to schools to enable them to take the steps suggested “taking into account local circumstances and the practical constraints faced by different schools in terms of issues such as building design”.
“In reality, universal social distancing will be very difficult for many councils to deliver and SNP ministers will have known that for a long time.”Jamie Greene MSP
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously said pupils in primary 1-3 could return to classrooms from February 22, along with senior phase secondary students who need school resources to complete coursework.
However, she has maintained that a final decision will be made by ministers on Tuesday and will depend on the prevalence of the virus.
Scottish Conservative education spokesman Jamie Greene said: “Any proposals to accelerate the return to classrooms are welcome but safety guidance must also make sense, be proportionate and backed up with government resources to help councils and schools practically put the measures in place.
“In reality, universal social distancing will be very difficult for many councils to deliver, and SNP ministers will have known that for a long time.
“We need to see what measures they have taken to support schools to introduce social distancing, as this issue has been consistently flagged for months.”