Swinney: Anxiety understandable but schools will be safe

The education secretary said government guidance will stop the virus spreading.

John Swinney insists pupils and staff will be kept safe when schools return but says teachers’ anxiety over the issue is understandable.

The education secretary said government guidance, which includes a ban on large gatherings like assemblies, has been carefully developed and will help stop a potential outbreak of coronavirus.

Speaking on Friday, he acknowledged there is “risk” involved in reopening schools from August 11, but said this has to be measured against the loss of educational opportunity.

Asked about comments from teachers concerned about the potential spread of coronavirus in schools, he told the BBC: “I understand the anxieties that members of the teaching profession will have.

“That’s why we’ve taken such care to gather the evidence, we established a specific expert group to look at all of these questions and to provide us with clinical advice.

“And the guidance that we published yesterday reflects that clinical advice, which is that it is safe to resume full-time schooling as long as we put in place a number of mitigating measures.”

He said these include ensuring hand hygiene and maintaining physical distance between teachers and pupils in the classroom.

Swinney added: “We will continue to listen to any concerns that emerge as schools return because it’s important that we properly and fully address the concerns that are held by members of the teaching profession.”

He also said there will be enough teachers working in Scotland when the new term begins, and numbers are being given a “boost” by a new fund to recruit around 1,400 more teachers.

Earlier, he told the PA news agency he is “very confident” his son will be safe when he returns to school.

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