Back to school: Pupils’ return set to be confirmed

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will update MSPs on schools as well as any further changes to lockdown.

Back to school: Pupils’ return set to be confirmed Pixabay

The Scottish Government will announce its final decision on the reopening of schools later.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will update parliament on the issue just after midday on Thursday.

She is expected to give the green light for a full-time return of pupils to schools when the new term starts from August 11.

Education secretary John Swinney said earlier this week people “should be confident” that will be the case, while Sturgeon strongly hinted it at Wednesday’s Covid-19 briefing.

The First Minister said she did not want to pre-empt the announcement to MSPs on Thursday.

But she added: “You know where we’re trying to get to on schools and you’ve probably not heard anything from me today that suggests we’re going in the opposite direction.”

Other issues related to the reopening of schools, such as if face coverings will be required, and whether or not secondary pupils will need to socially distance, should also be addressed.

Sturgeon will further update parliament on the Scottish Government’s latest review of lockdown on Thursday, which happens every three weeks.

The FM has stressed she will likely take a “very cautious” approach to easing measures any further after indoor hospitality, shops and personal retail were given the go-ahead to resume in the phase three announcement earlier in July.

Along with the decision on schools, the only major change expected is an end to shielding for groups deemed most vulnerable to Covid, such as those with underlying health conditions.

Speaking on Wednesday, Sturgeon said those two areas – schools and shielding – would not “leave us very much room for immediate changes” elsewhere.

It means businesses such as gyms, nightclubs, casinos and live event venues are likely to see their wait to reopen go on.

The First Minister said: “We can’t just look at whether an individual change is safe, although that’s an important part of our consideration.

“We also have to consider the cumulative impact of all of the changes we make and we have to be sensible in the order in which we make changes so we don’t create a situation where we are doing too much, too quickly and therefore giving the virus the chance to overwhelm us again.”

She said she expects some people and companies to be disappointed after tomorrow’s announcement.

Sturgeon added: “Where we are unable to move to a further opening up tomorrow, we will indicate, as far as we can, indicative dates for the future – even though they will be conditional on continued suppression of the virus.”

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