Schools guidance

Updated measures for pupils and staff.

Guidance on arrangements for the phased reopening of schools in January 2021 has been updated to take account of public health advice and Scotland’s on-going work to supress coronavirus (COVID-19).

This guidance has been issued in response to the First Minster’s announcement of 19 December and aims for a full return to school buildings and face-to-face learning and teaching for all children from 18 January.


  • Schools will reopen for childcare purposes in the first week of term for the children of key workers and the most vulnerable children only, with the guidance setting out who this applies to
  • For the majority of pupils the holiday period will effectively be extended until 11 January and learning will take place online from the 11 January to the 15 January
  • All these measures will be kept under regular review
  • All children who are eligible for free school meals will continue to receive them during this period

Education Secretary John Swinney said:

“These exceptional phased reopening arrangements are being put in place in light of the latest developments in the path of the virus. They are designed to allow an assessment of community transmission after the festive period.

“Schools that planned to open this week should follow their existing end of term arrangements. This decision has been taken because we judge that current levels of prevalence in Scotland remain safe for schools to open.

“After that, assuming we are confident we have the virus under control, we aim to reopen schools more fully. Until then, schools will go online only except for the children of key workers and the most vulnerable.

“This is a challenging time for our school staff and pupils. They have worked incredibly hard to ensure that our education system operates as normally as possible.  Once again, I want to put on record my sincere thanks for their tremendous efforts.”


Link to guidance, including definitions for key workers and vulnerable children.

This guidance, therefore, supplements the existing Coronavirus: reducing risks in schools guidance specifically to support schools and local authorities over the period from 21 December 2020 until 15 January 2021.

All aspects of the existing guidance and accompanying mitigations continue to apply while schools are open.


Media enquiries

Back to top