Pupils will return to school full-time in August

Classes to resume nearly five months after pupils were sent home amid the coronavirus lockdown.

Schools will reopen full-time in August, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

Pupils were sent home in March as the country locked down in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In a widely expected announcement on Thursday, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was now safe for children to return to class from August 11.

Schools can begin with a phased return but all pupils should be in full-time by August 18.

Social distancing will not be enforced between pupils, but secondary schools will be expected to make changes to keep older students apart.

Teachers must remain two metres from pupils when possible, but will not be routinely expected to wear face masks.

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 a determination to drive the virus down and keep prevalence low, so that schools can reopen in August.

“I am therefore pleased to confirm today that schools will return from  August 11.

“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 August 18 at the latest.”

At the height of the pandemic, the Scottish Government proposed schools initially returning part-time, with pupils splitting their time between class and home.

But continued suppression of the virus means a full-time return is now possible. 

Sturgeon also announced extra cash to recruit more teachers and for measures such as enhanced cleaning.

She said: “I can also confirm that – in addition to the £45m previously announced – we will make a further £30m available to support the recruitment of additional teachers.

“We anticipate that this total investment of £75m will enable the recruitment of around 1400 extra teachers.

“In addition, will invest a further £30m – on top of £20m already announced – as part of a £50m education recovery fund for local authorities.

“This will support extra cleaning, facilities management, school transport and other practical measures that are vital in ensuring a safe return to school.”

What do children think about going back to school?

Analysis: ‘A big moment in easing restrictions’

By STV politics correspondent Ewan Petrie

The full-time reopening of schools is undoubtedly a big moment in the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Little wonder the education secretary has spoken about his anxiety over the issue, and concerns are shared in school communities.

Local authorities believe it is inevitable there will be incidents of Covid-19 in our schools.

However, ministers have had to weigh the risk of returning against the impact we are already seeing on young people.

Studies have shown long-term implications of the closure for attainment levels, social mobility and career prospects as well as physical and mental health.

The First Minister today stressed the moral and educational need for pupils to return to the classroom as soon as possible.

Biolding towards this announcement has been the driving focus in recent weeks.

Preparations by staff prior to the summer holidays will not all be in vain.

Some schools are planning to keep some measures to limit the risk of spreading the virus, such as stopping the sharing of equipment and keeping surfaces clear.

However, the level of physical distancing which is being encouraged in secondaries will vary widely depending on capacity.

Schools that are close to or even above their maximum will be limited in how they can spread pupils out around the building.

And there are concerns around the issue of testing of staff, which will not be routine, and will not be fully up and running by August 11.

With exam results due next week, it will be a busy start to the new term.

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