Scottish schools reopening: John Swinney confirms plan for all children to return to class full time in August
Scottish pupils are now set to make a "full-time" return to schools when they go back after the Summer holidays, it has been announced.
Education Secretary John Swinney said the dramatic progress in driving down cases of Coronavirus has allowed the shift away from the proposed "blended" learning approach which would see children in school for about half the week.
But he warned that the full-time return depends on the continued progress in bringing down cases of the virus.
Mr Swinney told MSPs today that the picture looks "more positive" than when the blended learning plan was drawn up in mid-May.
"We have seen Scotland make significant progress," he said.
"There are now only 2,000 infectious people in Scotland - a reduction of around 90% since May. There has been a sustained downward trend in Covid-19 deaths. Intensive care cases now stand at a fraction of what they were.
"If we stay on this trajectory, which cannot be taken for granted, by August the position will be even better. That is the good news. That means we are now able to update our planning assumptions.
"If we stay on track, if we all continue to do what is right and if we can further suppress this terrible virus, the Government believes that we should prepare children to be able to return to school full-time in August.
"I must stress that this is the aim that the Government is now working towards."
Returning to school
But he insisted this remains "conditional" on ongoing scientific and health advice.
Scots pupils are scheduled to return for the 2020/21 term in mid-August.
Mr Swinney suggested earlier this month that blended learning could last for up to a year, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon quickly sought to play this down.
The Scottish Government has said it wants to have at least 50% of pupils' time spent physically in school under the "blended approach" but some councils have hinted that schools could be in as few as one day a week.
Teaching unions have urged caution over the safe reopening of schools.
‘Success in suppressing virus’
Reacting to Mr. Swinney’s statement First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her government’s “success in suppressing the virus” has sparked the plan for a full return to school.
In a series of tweets, the First Minister said: “ When it looked like the virus would make it impossible for kids to return to school full time in August, we developed a contingency. The contingency is still there should we need it. But our success in suppressing virus makes it possible now to plan for a full time return.
“Achieving that aim depends on getting and keeping virus at very low levels - and that depends on all of us abiding by public health rules and taking a careful path out of lockdown. And it means following relevant advice on mitigation, surveillance and testing.”
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