News

Back to school

Published: 02 Feb 2021 17:21

Phased return for some pupils.

Children in early learning and childcare and in primaries 1-3 are now scheduled to make a full return to nurseries and schools from 22 February.

In addition, very limited numbers of pupils in S4-6 will also be able to complete in-school practical work that is essential for completing national qualifications on a part-time basis from the same date

Some children and young people with significant additional support needs will also be prioritised for a return to in-person provision, for those most urgently in need of support.

All other pupils, with the exception of vulnerable children and those of key workers, will continue with remote learning.

To complement the return to in-school teaching, there will be a significant expansion of testing. People who work in schools, early learning and childcare settings attached to schools, and senior phase pupils, will be offered at-home testing two times a week.

Two metre physical distancing for adults and pupils will be required in secondary schools in the period immediately after a return.

Where required, updated guidance (and associated mitigations) will be published for all relevant settings that allows for the current circumstances and latest scientific advice. All these measures will be kept under regular review.

These decisions will be confirmed on Tuesday 16 February - providing sufficient progress in tackling the virus has been made.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“I appreciate only too well the burden being placed on many families as they navigate this COVID pandemic. I am also acutely aware of the need to maintain teaching and learning wherever possible. In doing so, the health and wellbeing of our children, young people and staff is paramount.

“My priority has been to ensure a safe return for children and young people to school and nursery as quickly as possible. That is why the steps that have been announced today are guided by the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and public health experts. Children and young people will begin a gradual, phased return to classrooms supported by a testing regime and enhanced guidance. A sense of caution underpins the plans unveiled today, but this is essential as we work to return to full time teaching in schools.”

Background

The schedule, subject to confirmation on 16 February, is:

February 22 – Full time return for pre-school children in early learning and childcare settings and children in P1-3.

February 22 - Part time return for senior phase pupils - S4, S5 and S6 - on a limited basis, for essential in-school practical work only. It is intended that there will be no more than 5 - 8% of a secondary school roll physically present at any one time for these purposes.

February 22 - Small increase for additional support needs where there is a demonstrable and immediate need.

All other primary and secondary pupils will continue to use remote learning until at least the beginning of March except in the case of vulnerable children and those of key workers. We will review this position every two weeks.

School age childcare services will also remain open only to vulnerable children and those of key workers pending further scientific advice.

All children who are eligible for free school meals will continue to receive them during this period.