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Coronavirus / Schools and nurseries to begin phased return later this month

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Photo: Scottish Government.

FIRST minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that schools and nurseries will begin a phased return later this month.

Speaking in parliament this afternoon, Sturgeon said the gradual return will start from 22 February.

From this date there will be the full-time return of early learning and childcare for those below school age, as well as bairns in primary one to three.

There will be a part-time return on a limited basis for senior children in schools for practical work needed for national qualification courses.

The first minister said there will also be increased provision for children with additional support needs.

Sturgeon said there will also be more testing for those working in education, as well as senior pupils. A further update on the phased return will be given in a fortnight.

Deputy first minister John Swinney later said: “I appreciate only too well the burden being placed on many families as they navigate this Covid pandemic. I am also acutely aware of the need to maintain teaching and learning wherever possible. In doing so, the health and wellbeing of our children, young people and staff is paramount.

“My priority has been to ensure a safe return for children and young people to school and nursery as quickly as possible. That is why the steps that have been announced today are guided by the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and public health experts.

“Children and young people will begin a gradual, phased return to classrooms supported by a testing regime and enhanced guidance. A sense of caution underpins the plans unveiled today, but this is essential as we work to return to full time teaching in schools.”

Current general coronavirus restrictions are set to remain until at least the end of February.

Shetland remains under level three guidelines.

In this afternoon’s update, the first minister also said that there will be a managed quarantine requirement” for anyone who arrives directly into Scotland, regardless of what country they come from.