‘Tall order’ for pupils to return to school on February 1

John Swinney says it is 'premature' to give a definitive view on schools reopening ahead of a formal decision next week.

‘Tall order’ for pupils to return to school on February 1 Getty Images

The reopening of schools on February 1 is a “tall order”, education secretary John Swinney said on Friday.

Swinney said it was too “premature” to give a definitive view on when pupils can return to the classroom.

The vast majority of pupils across Scotland are learning remotely for the month of January due to the current lockdown measures, with exceptions in place for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

The Scottish Government is expected to formally announce when schools will reopen in the parliament on Tuesday.

Swinney told BBC radio: “The government will look at these questions at the cabinet on Tuesday and the First Minister will give an update to parliament, but the virus is still at a very high level in general within society and we took the view that we had to have the level of community transmission suppressed to enable us to protect the NHS.”

Teachers had previously raised safety concerns about the prevalence of coronavirus in schools before the new year, with some union branches threatening industrial action disputes with local councils.

The Scottish Conservatives said parents needed to know there was a clear plan for reopening schools.

Shadow education secretary Jamie Greene said: “The SNP government needs to reassure parents that they have a clear plan on how and when pupils can get back into classrooms, which is where they are best educated. 

“The closure of schools has placed a huge burden on both parents and teachers, and they deserve clarity as soon as possible. 

“More on-site and regular Covid testing was promised but never materialised, and this will be essential to getting kids behind their desks again.”

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