Coronavirus: Nicola Sturgeon to confirm reopening of Scottish schools

The Scottish government is expected to confirm later that Scotland's schools will reopen in full next month.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said her government's "central objective" is to get all pupils back in the classroom from 11 August.

Ministers signed off the schools plan on Wednesday, and it will be announced to MSPs at Holyrood on Thursday.

Ms Sturgeon has warned she is unlikely to ease many other restrictions, saying her approach will be "very cautious".

However, indicative dates of when more services could be allowed to resume will be announced.

Thursday marks the latest point at which Scotland's coronavirus restrictions must be reviewed, and Ms Sturgeon is to update MSPs on progress along her government's "route map" out of lockdown.

She said Scotland had made "good progress" in suppressing Covid-19, but warned there were "lots of signs of fragility" both at home and overseas.

She has warned Scots not to expect widespread changes beyond the announcement on schools and the pausing of "shielding" for those most at risk from the virus.

BBC Scotland understands the local authority body Cosla has now signed off on guidance for the reopening, despite earlier concern about funding for extra cleaning and other measures.

Education Secretary John Swinney told MSPs on Monday that all councils were on track to have pupils back in the classroom in August, although he said the return to schools may need to be "phased" in some areas.

Some councils have said it may take some extra time for pupils to return to face-to-face schooling, with Falkirk Council saying its phased reopening may take two weeks.

Ms Sturgeon said on Wednesday that there was "nothing to suggest we are going in the opposite direction" in terms of fully reopening schools on 11 August.

Guidance agreed by the Education Recovery Group – which includes representatives of the government, local authorities and teaching groups – says physical distancing will not be enforced between pupils, although secondary schools will be expected to adjust the layout of classrooms and the flow in corridors "where possible".

Teachers will be expected to maintain a 2m (6ft 6in) distance where possible, but the wearing of face coverings will not be enforced, with Mr Swinney saying this would be "left to the judgement of individuals".

A range of "extra precautions" will also be put in place to help schools operate safely, including extra cleaning and hand hygiene requirements and "quick access to testing" for anyone who develops symptoms.

At her coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon said it was the government's "central objective to get schools back full time" from 11 August, alongside the pausing of shielding from the start of the month.

However, she added: "Ensuring those changes can take place without increasing the prevalence of the virus too far is not going to leave us much room for many other immediate changes.

"We can't just look at whether an individual change is safe, although that is an important part of our consideratRead More – Source

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