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Coronavirus / Phased return for schools given go-ahead

First minister Nicola Sturgeon. Photo: Scottish Government

FIRST minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that early learning and primary one to three pupils will return to schools and nurseries as planned from next week.

Sturgeon made the announcement in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon (Tuesday).

The Scottish Government outlined this plan earlier this month, but it waited a fortnight to assess the situation with the spread of coronavirus before giving it the green light.

In Shetland the phased return will involve children in council run early learning and childcare settings and all primary one to primary three children, returning full-time, after the February long weekend, from 23 February.

Other nurseries not run by the council can return from 22 February in line with national guidance. Hame Fae Hame in Scalloway, for example, is due to reopen on this date.

There will also be a part-time return, on a very limited basis, for senior phase, secondary four to secondary six, pupils to allow completion of essential practical work for national qualification courses.

There is also due to more increased provision for vulnerable bairns.

Sturgeon said that a further update on the phased return of education is likely to be outlined in a fortnight.

However, she said it is unlikely there will be any further return to school before 15 March.

Sturgeon also said that there will be no changes to the current coronavirus restrictions until at least the start of March.

However, the government will issue a new strategic framework next week for how Scotland will emerge from the current restrictions.

There is little information at this stage but the first minister did say that ‘staycations’ in Scotland will not be doable in the Easter, but this could be possible in the summer.

Overseas travel, however, is expected to be off limits for some time.

Sturgeon urged people to stick to the rules and stressed that caution is needed.

“We must be driven much more by data than dates,” she said, adding that it could be dangerous if the country is opened up to meet particular “arbitrary” dates.

The parliament was also told that “trade offs” will be a common theme once restrictions begin to ease, with schools for instance being prioritised over some other areas.

The first minister also said that as of 8.30am this morning 1,288,004 people in Scotland had received a first dose of the Covid vaccine.

NHS Shetland chairman Gary Robinson confirmed this morning that over 7,000 folk in the isles had received their first dose.

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021