Coronavirus in Scotland: 'School return in February is a tall order', warns John Swinney
Mr Swinney said today that it would be difficult to get pupils back to face-to-face learning in school buildings by February as coronavirus cases are still at a very high level in Scotland.
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme earlier about the potential for schools to go back next month, the Education Secretary and Deputy First Minister said: “I think it’s a tall order to be honest.
“The virus is still at a very high level in general within society and we took the view that we had to have the level of community transmission suppressed to enable us protect the National Health Service.”
Mr Swinney said the Scottish Government will look at analysis on schools and the First Minister will announce a decision on Tuesday - after a cabinet meeting - on whether or not schools will go back next month.
He noted it is ‘premature to comment’ at the moment about the situation and acknowledged it has been a ‘terribly tough year’ for children and young people within Scotland.
However, he added: “We’ve got to give a priority to keeping everybody in our society safe by suppressing the community transmission of the virus and that’s what the Government will focus on on Tuesday.”
Asked if he was worried about remote learning affecting attainment levels in Scotland, Mr Swinney admitted he is.
He said: “I can’t sit here and say that remote learning and the current environment and the school year that we are going through is the ideal school year - it’s far far from ideal and I worry about the impact on the well-being of young people."
The news comes as pupils in Scotland finish their first week back at school via online learning.
Speaking about the challenges of remote learning, Mr Swinney said: “I accept that remote learning is a real challenge for parents particularly those who are working from home as well but I think it’s got off to a very good start and I thank teachers pupils and staff and parents and families for the support they have given to this process.”
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