Covid Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon school lockdown announcement

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Explained

Nicola Sturgeon is set to announce a final decision on a phased return to school for pupils across Scotland in front of Holyrood this week.

The First Minister previously revealed the Scottish Government’s back-to-school plan, which includes a phased return from February 22.

Education Secretary John Swinney made it clear that the plan will go forward “unless things go in the wrong direction”.

Since the announcement two weeks ago, case numbers in Scotland have continued to decline and the test positivity rate has dropped to around 5.7% – 0.7% higher than the World Health Organisation’s guideline.

When is the announcement?

Ms Sturgeon is expected to make a statement to the Scottish Parliament at around 2.20pm.

How can I watch it?

The Scottish Parliament will be showing her statement live on Scottish Parliament TV here.

Alternatively, it will be broadcast on BBC One Scotland and BBC Scotland.

You can also follow all the updates on our live blog.

What are the latest figures?

On Monday, Nicola Sturgeon announced 559 new positive Covid cases and no new deaths i the last 24 hours.

The daily test positivity rate is 7% and of the new cases, 123 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 112 in Lothian and 97 in Lanarkshire.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that 1,428 people are in hospital and 102 people are in intensive care.

In the seven days from February 6 and February 12, Scotland had 5,669 cases of Covid, which is 103.8 cases per 100,000 population and a test positivity rate of 5.7%. 

For context, in the seven days previously when schools were closed on January 5, 2021, Scotland had 16,408 cases of Covid, which was 300.3 cases per 100,000 population and a test positivity rate of 11.5%. 

This is what it means for your children:

Who will go back to school?

From February 22:

Primary: Children in primary one, two and three should provisionally return to class

Secondary school: Senior pupils who have practical assignments to complete will be allowed to return on a “part-time” basis

Nursery: Pre-school nurseries will open

Additional needs: Some children and young people with significant additional support needs will also be prioritised for a return

Key workers: Children of key workers will remain at school

Who will be going back first?

Children who are in early learning, child care and pupils in primaries 1-3 are scheduled to make a return to full-time learning to schools and nurseries from February 22. 

This would see a return to pre-school nurseries at the same time as the gradual reopening of the wider schools system.

What about P4 and upwards?

All other primary and secondary pupils will continue to use remote learning until at least the beginning of March.

This excludes vulnerable children and those of key workers.

Senior pupils in S4-S6 who have practical assignments to complete will be allowed to return on a “part-time” basis, with no more than 8 per cent of the school roll attending “at any one time”.

Mr Swinney previously said nursery children and P1-3 had been prioritised because they find it “more challenging to engage in remote learning”.

The Scottish Government says it will review this plan every two weeks.

What counts as practical work?

The Scottish Government has yet to release guidance on what counts as practical work.

Will children who need additional support return?

Children and pupils with significant additional support needs will also be prioritised for a return to in-person provision.

What about school meals?

All children who are eligible for free school meals will continue to receive them during this period.

What protection will be in place in schools?

A testing plan will be put in place to keep all children and staff safe from the virus.

Staff who work in schools, early learning and childcare settings, and senior-level students, will be offered at-home testing twice a week.

In addition to this, a two-metre physical distancing for faculty and pupils will be required in secondary schools.

However, these precautions are subject to change as the Scottish Government are keeping all measures under review.

When will there be a final decision?

The Scottish government aims to provide an update today.

They previously said any decisions on a return to school will likely depend on the infection rates across Scotland and current levels of Covid. 

What has the Scottish Government said? 

Deputy First Minister John Swinney during a ministerial statement in the Scottish Parliament.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney previously 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.”

Mr Swinney added: “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.”

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