THE SCOTTISH Government has confirmed it is further easing lockdown restrictions, as the risk of getting infected by the Covid-19 virus appears to recede.
However she warned again against any complacency and said the country would remain in phase three of the easing process.
Making a statement in the Scottish Parliament on the next steps on dealing with the pandemic first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that:
- There were 17 new cases of coronavirus during the last 24 hours taking the number of confirmed cases in Scotland to 18,597;
- The have been no death reported in Scotland under this method of counting for the last two weeks;
- The Scottish Government estimates that around 300 people are still infectious with the virus;
- The virus isolation period has been extended from seven to 10 days;
- Scotland will remain in phase three for the next three weeks, but shielding will be paused as of Saturday (1 August) and children can go back to school from 11 August, and 18 August at the latest;
- From Monday routine eye care can be carried out,
- From 17 August a wider range of dental services can resume.
With regards to the re-opening of schools the advice to pupils, teachers and local authorities is as follows:
- There is no requirement for physical distancing between children in primary schools but at secondary schools distancing should be followed as long as it does not compromise the return to full-time education;
- School transport is regarded as an extension of the school estate, whereas pupils using public transport need to follow the usual social distancing rules;
- There should be an increased emphasis on hand hygiene and surface cleaning, including additional cleaning provision in schools. Hand washing/sanitising should be required for everyone on every entry to the school;
- As close as possible to zero tolerance of symptoms should be in place, and there must be strict compliance with a strict and fast access test and protect system;
- In both primary and secondary settings, the preference should be to avoid large gatherings and crowded spaces and, as much as possible, to keep pupils within the same groups for the duration of the school day;
- Sharing of equipment/utensils/toys/books should be minimised; and smaller groups and more outdoor activities should be put in place where possible.
Speaking directly to the country’s pupils, Sturgeon said: “I want to thank you again for the way you have coped with this considerable disruption to your lives. I think I speak for the whole country when I say we could not be prouder of you. I promise that we will do everything that we can to get things back on track for you as quickly as possible.
“I am sure none of you will ever forget Covid. We are absolutely determined to make sure that you will not be the legacy of it later in your lives.”
Responding to Thursday’s announcement, the chairman of the Shetland Islands Council’s education and families committee George Smith said: “We are really looking forward to our schools reopening after a five month enforced break.
“The Scottish Government’s announcement today, and the associated guidance, will enable all of our schools to fully prepare for the safe return of our children and staff.
“The health and wellbeing of our children and staff continues to be at the absolute forefront of our planning for the resumption of face-to-face learning and teaching.”
Director of children services Helen Budge added council staff were in the process of finalising local guidance, aligning with the national documentation published today, in order to support the reopening of schools.
This local guidance will address a number of areas, including arrangements for the first week of the new term, she said.
“We appreciate the length of time children and young people have been away from school and that many children are starting out in a new school, either in primary one, secondary one, or in secondary five at the Anderson High School,” she said.
“In discussions with our head teachers, and teaching unions colleagues, we are looking at a gradual, phased return of children and young people into our schools from Tuesday 11 August to Friday 14 August.
“This will support children to reconnect with the school environment and enable staff to go over important safety procedures and arrangements with them.”
Guidance on both the return to school and the pausing of shielding has been published on the Scottish Government website at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/
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