Nicola Sturgeon urged to provide more clarity as full school return for pupils on January 18 'under review'

Nicola Sturgeon faced calls for more clarity around the reopening of schools after the first period of new strict Covid-19 restrictions amid pressure from opposition politicians.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the return of schools on January 18 is under review
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the return of schools on January 18 is under review

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson said people were becoming tired of “time-limited firebreaks stretching into months” and said that parents now faced the prospect of picking between childcare and their jobs.

Calling on the First Minister to provide more clarity on whether schools will return to being fully open after January 19, Ms Davidson called for clarity.

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Ms Sturgeon said in her statement the return of pupils to school on January 18 was under review due to concerns around the potential transmissability of the new strain of Covid-19 in children.

Ms Davidson said: "[The closure of schools] doesn’t just impact on their family life, it affects their ability to work and pay the bills.

"They will be rightly concerned to have just heard the First Minister say that the January 18 return date is under review.

"Can the First Minister give parents at home an idea of how likely it will be that children will return to classrooms from January 18 or do they need to start preparing now for a long-haul of blended learning at home.”

In response, Ms Sturgeon said schools will “if it is at all possible" be open on January 18.

However in her daily briefing on Monday she repeatedly stressed that the closure of schools was “at least” until that date.

The First Minsiter said: “I will try to do what I have tried to do every day over the past 10 months and that is give people as much clarity as I possibly can.

"We will if it is at all possible get schools back open on January 18, that has been a priority, it continues to be a priority for all the reasons we understand and I think all of us agree on.

"If that means the rest of us living under more severe restrictions then we will not shy away from saying that as well.

"But we have to give ourselves the time to understand this virus a little bit more.”

Patrick Harvie, the leader of the Scottish Greens, echoed the concerns from Ms Davidson but said schools must not stay open “at all costs”.

He also pushed the First Minister on teacher concerns around their safety and a rollout of testing to teachers.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I do accept that many teachers feel as if their safety has not been prioritised, what I don’t accept is that that is true from the government’s perspective but if teachers feel that then I recognise and accept that we continue to have work to do to assure and reassure them and we will continue to do that.

"We are looking at and have been developing plans for more mass testing in schools in the new year. We are trying to do that sensibly and on a sustainable basis.”

Richard Leonard, the Scottish Labour leader also called for a 70 per cent increase in testing, Test and Protect capacity and in the number of vaccines being rolled out.

Dismissing the question, Ms Sturgeon said the vaccine would be rolled out as soon as possible and added “words almost fail me in response to that.”

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