Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reducing the risks in schools

Non-statutory guidance to ensure a low risk and supportive environment for learning and teaching.

This document is part of a collection

About this guidance


The aim of this guidance is to support schools and local authorities in the delivery of education in light of the current COVID-19 situation in Scotland. This guidance is non-statutory. It provides the principles for managing schools at this time. More detailed guidance on the application of specific mitigations is available in core COVID guidance. Previous versions of this guidance are available on our archive website.

This guidance applies to all local authorities and schools (primary/secondary/special/school hostels/residential) under their management and all external organisations involved in delivering services in schools (e.g. contracted facilities management services). It should also be used by grant-aided schools and independent schools to support their recovery efforts.

This guidance does not apply to early learning and childcare (ELC). Read the separate guidance for early learning, school aged childcare and childminder settings.

Nothing in this guidance affects the legal obligations of local authorities with regard to health and safety, public health and their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010.

Key context (including revised strategic framework)

We published the Strategic Framework update on 22 February 2022. This sets out a change to our overarching strategic intent: "to manage COVID-19 effectively, primarily through adaptations and health measures that strengthen our resilience and recovery, as we rebuild for a better future."

Of relevance to schools, the Strategic Framework sets out that a small number of routine protective measures will remain, these are set out in this guidance. The need for and sufficiency of these protective measures will continue to be kept under constant review. If data and evidence suggest that the approach to any specific mitigations should be updated then advice and revised guidance will be provided to that effect.

The evidence base for this guidance comprises expert advice from the Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues, the Chief Medical Officer’s Office and Public Health Scotland. It has benefited from stakeholder input via the COVID-19 Education Recovery Group (CERG) including local government, the professional associations and others.

Consistent with previous advice, the Sub-group acted on the principles that:

  • mitigations in schools should be retained for no longer than is necessary based on the state of the pandemic and evidence about risk
  • there should be a presumption against placing a greater restriction on children and young people than on the rest of society 

It has taken careful account of the evolving risk environment in schools and wider communities. It also seeks to ensure that only those mitigations that are necessary and proportionate to ensure the safety of school communities are retained. 

Health and wellbeing

Local authorities and schools, in partnership with health professionals, will continue to offer support to the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people and staff. Consideration of support for children and young people with additional support needs should be undertaken in line with responsibilities under additional support for learning legislation. Balancing progress in learning with children and young people’s social and emotional needs should continue to be a priority.



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