Schools should stay open ‘as long as possible’ despite Omicron threat

National clinical director Jason Leitch said there is a cost to the disruption caused to the education of pupils.

Schools should stay open ‘as long as possible’ despite Omicron threat iStock
Jason Leitch said that schools 'should be the last thing to close and the first thing to open'.

Jason Leitch has insisted that schools should stay open for “as long as possible”, despite concerns that they could be closed as a result of rising Omicron cases.

Scotland’s national clinical director explained that there is a cost to the two years of disruption caused to the education of pupils.

And he said that schools should continue to function with the current Covid mitigation measures in place.

It was earlier announced that many colleges across Scotland are planning on moving to hybrid learning when classes return in January.

They will also move to online learning until the end of term this week.

“I think schools should stay open for as long as possible, be the last thing to close and the first thing to open,” Leitch told STV News.

“Because, apart from health and social care, they’re our most important public service.

“And children and young people, and learners, have had two years of disruption. And there is a cost to two years of disruption.

“The harms from that, particularly for some demographics within our population, are too high.

“Now, if we change our advice for that we’ll let people know, but for now we think schools should function with the mitigations in place of course, keeping people as safe as we can, but they should stay open.”

People in Scotland have been asked to reduce contact with other households as much as possible over the festive period.

It comes amidst a rise in the number of Covid cases across the country, whilst the booster programme continues at pace.

Leitch told STV News that education is also a public health measure, as he outlined the importance of trying to keep schools open.

He said: “On today’s data, schools will return in January as normal with the mitigations in place.

“Remember, we still have face coverings, we have testing, we have all the other things in place.

“And I don’t say that lightly because I’m married to a teacher and schools are under some pressure with self-isolation, with people actually positive with the disease of course.

“But, it’s really, really important that we do what we can because education is also a public health measure, it’s important that we try to keep those schools open if we can.”

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