Amount of time lost by school pupils during Covid-19 lockdowns: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

Can you please supply the following information relating to the time lost by pupils in both primary and secondary schools across the Scottish local authorities during the Covid lockdowns. Dates schools were closed and pupils were working from home from March 2020 till the final lockdown was lifted. These figures broken down by local authorities but if this isn’t available just the total numbers of days that were lost by children in the physical classroom for both primary and secondary schools.


I can confirm that on 19 March 2020 the Deputy First Minister announced the closures of all schools from 20 March 2020. From this time schools remained closed to the majority of pupils until August 2020. The date schools reopened after the summer holidays varied across Local Authorities, but generally schools opened from 11 August 2020. On 19 December 2020 the First Minister announced the extended holiday period for most children until 11 January 2021 and that learning would then be online until 18 January (other than for the children of key workers and the most vulnerable) at which point the intention was for pupils to return to school in person. Subsequently, on 4 January 2021 the First Minister announced that all schools were to use remote learning until at least the end of January 2021, except in the case of vulnerable children and those of key workers. All other learners had remote learning provision.

From 16 February 2021, a phased re-opening of schools was announced, starting with early learning and childcare and Primary 1 to 3 returning to classrooms full time from 22 February 2021. In March 2021, there was a phased return to full time in-school learning for remaining primary pupils (Primary 4-7) and remaining secondary school pupils (priority for in-school time was given to senior phase pupils). Following the Spring break in April 2021, there was a full time return for almost all pupils. The one exception to this was children who were on the shielding list.

The Scottish Government does not centrally hold a cumulative total for the exact number of days schools were fully or partially closed for a number of reasons. In some cases, schools closed earlier in the pandemic due to local outbreaks. Furthermore, the exact number of days closed will vary depending on the Local Authority, which set their own term dates and will therefore take holidays at different times. Similarly, in addition to the phased return arrangements, schools in different Local Authorities will have resumed on different dates. We also know that there were a number of localised COVID outbreaks which required certain schools to close (when others will have been open, eg during Autumn 2020).
However, the Scottish Government does not hold a record of these.

I have attached the Education Authority holiday spreadsheets in Annex A and B, which show an estimated breakdown of term dates for each Local Authority in 2019/20 and 2020/21 which you may find useful. However, for a more accurate and detailed breakdown of days lost by individual schools and Local Authorities, you may wish to contact the Local Authorities directly who may be able to provide further information.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI 202300388038 - Information Released - Annex A - 2019-20


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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