Pupils across Scotland share their goodbyes as schools begin coronavirus shut-down

Across Scotland pupils and teachers have said their goodbyes as they begin a school break the likes of which has never been seen before in peacetime.

Piper Cameron McKay visited Hawthornden Primary in Bonnyrigg to pipe out the school's primary seven pupils on Friday. Picture: Greg Macvean

There are more than 2,500 educational establishments for children north of the Border. As of 4pm on Friday, the vast majority of them are now closed. No one knows exactly when they will reopen.

UK Government advice is that all children should stay at home, if at all possible, from Monday. This refers to primary and secondary schools, colleges and nurseries.

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It is increasingly likely that schools may be closed until mid-August - the traditional end of the summer holiday in Scotland - although nothing has been formally announced.

Speaking at a press conference in Edinburgh, Nicola Sturgeon sent her best wishes to pupils and staff across the country.

“I would like to thank you for all your hard work this year,” she said. “You are all an enormous credit to your schools and to your communities, and of course your parents.

“I also want to say thank you to our teaching staff and non-teaching staff in our schools and early years centres, and all those who continue to work flat out in our education service over the last few days to help us adapt to what is a rapidly changing situation.”

“The very fact the deputy first minister confirmed yesterday that, for the first time in our history, there will be no exams this year, underlines the seriousness of the situation that we are facing.”

The closures are an especially bittersweet occasion for those in primary seven who are due to begin high school later in the year.

Many had planned special assemblies or farewell proms to mark their departures from friends and teachers - events that, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, are now unlikely to take place.

But among the sadness there is a keen awareness of the unique set of circumstances that have prompted the school closures.

At Forehill Primary in Ayr on Thursday, pupils gathered in the playground to sing the Bill Withers soul classic Lean On Me to mark the sudden end of the school term.

“Although there are challenges ahead, we are remaining positive in Forehill,” a message shared on the school’s Facebook page said.

Meanwhile, at Hawthornden primary school in Bonnyrigg, a piper led primary seven pupils out of the buildng when the school bell rang for the last time on Friday afternoon.

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