Scottish Government expected to confirm reopening of schools in August
The Scottish Government is expected to confirm that schools in Scotland will fully reopen from 11 August.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said it is a “central objective” of the government to allow classroom education to resume.
Sturgeon has suggested that she is unlikely to announce any further easing of lockdown measures beyond this, warning that some businesses may be “disappointed” with her “very cautious approach”.
Scotland is currently in phase three of the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown.
Thursday marks the end of a regular three week period when lockdown measures must be reviewed.
Sturgeon has said that the levels of coronavirus in Scotland remain at very low levels, with no deaths of people tested for the virus for 13 successive days.
However, 22 new cases were confirmed on Wednesday and public health authorities are investigating a potential COVID-19 “cluster” in the Inverclyde area.
The increase of coronavirus cases in Europe and the reintroduction of some lockdown measures in countries such as Spain are also matters of concern for the Scottish Government.
Sturgeon warned on Wednesday that the pausing of shielding, the reintroduction of tourism and the reopening of schools are “very significant measures” and that there is “limited headroom” for any more changes to lockdown measures at this time.
She said: “We have made very significant changes over the past three weeks, including the resumption of indoor hospitality and tourism, and it is still too early to be completely assured about the impact, or hopefully the absence of impact, of these”.
But she added that she may be able to give some more indicative dates on further reopening measures.
The Scottish Government’s Education Recovery Group will also publish guidance on the practical measures expected to be in place in schools in order to reopen.
The document is likely to include details on what level of physical distancing is required among staff and some pupils, and in which situations PPE may be required.
Education Secretary John Swinney told MSPs on Monday that some schools may choose to reopen in a phased manner, rather than having all pupils in on 11 August.
He also acknowledged that physical distancing among high school pupils would not be practically possible in many schools.
Assemblies and other large group activities like choir practices as well as some after school groups are unlikely to be allowed to go ahead even as schools reopen, he said.
Swinney also said that plans for an “enhanced” testing system to monitor potential outbreaks of coronavirus in schools may not be in place by 11 August.