At-a-glance: Covid rules in schools as new term begins

Coronavirus restrictions have eased but the classroom is still a very different place from pre-Covid times.

The start of the new school term is upon us with most local authorities welcoming back pupils this week.

Following the move beyond level zero, the majority of remaining coronavirus restrictions were eased across Scotland but the classroom is still a very different place from pre-Covid times.

Here is everything you need to know about the current set-up in schools.


Social distancing remains in place in school settings, despite the restriction being scrapped in other areas of Scottish life.

Legal requirements for physical distancing – except in healthcare settings – and gatherings were removed on August 9.

But one metre physical distancing applies between adults – and between adults and children – in early learning and childcare settings for at least six weeks once schools reopen after the summer holidays.

Schools already had two metre physical distancing in place during the pandemic and they can retain those settings if more practical.


Secondary pupils and school staff in Scotland will also be asked to take a lateral flow test before they return, and should continue to test twice weekly.

Close contacts of those who test positive for Covid-19 will no longer be required to automatically self-isolate for ten days.

Instead, those who have at least two weeks since their last dose will be able to take a PCR test that would allow them to bypass self-isolation if they test negative.

Young people under the age of 17 will also be able to end self-isolation if they test negative, while those under five years old will be “encouraged”, but not required, to take a test.

As a result of the changes, blanket self-isolations for whole school classes will no longer be required.


Face masks have to be worn during lessons by secondary pupils, unless medically exempt.

They should also be worn by all pupils aged 12 and over when moving around the school in corridors, office and admin areas, canteens – except when dining – indoor communal areas and school transport.

Children under 12 don’t need to wear face coverings at school.


The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended that all 16 to 17-year-olds should be offered a first dose of Pfizer vaccine.

Drop-in clinics for every age group for first and second doses are now available across every mainland health board area.

The Scottish Government says all schools should encourage staff who have not received both doses of vaccine to seek vaccination as soon as possible, following the recommended gap between doses.


Local authorities should ensure that all schools have access to CO2 monitoring, whether via mobile or fixed devices.

Additional funding of £10m is being provided to councils to support this work in the schools and ELC sectors.


The revised approach to contact tracing means bubbles are no longer required to be maintained in schools.

But schools should continue to avoid assemblies and other types of large group gatherings for at least six weeks after the summer holidays.

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