When is February half term 2021? Start and end dates for Scotland school holiday - and when pupils could return to class

Schools closed to many children to limit the spread of Covid-19 amid a second wave of the deadly virus

Scotland school pupils will begin a phased return to the classroom in February.

The country's youngest pupils could be back in classrooms full time while plans include a part time return for senior secondary school students.

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It comes after months of home schooling as Scotland and the rest of the UK closed its schools to many children to help limit the spread of Covid-19.

Many children will return to remote learning following the national lockdown restrictions on school attendance. (Pic: PA)

Schools stayed open for children of key workers and vulnerable children as the UK rolled out the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines to the most vulnerable in society.

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Why did Nicola Sturgeon close schools?

Nicola Sturgeon pointed to two factors in her decision making - the overall level of community transmission and the uncertainty around the impact of the new variant in young people.

She said: "There is no doubt that of all the difficult decisions we have had to take today, this was the most difficult of all and its impact is of course the most severe.

"The evidence to date makes clear that thanks to the hard work of school staff and pupils, schools in Scotland have been low-risk environments for Covid. We will work with our partners to ensure that remains the case.

"That will include ongoing work on testing in schools and discussions about when, in the context of the overall programme, it will be possible to vaccinate school staff.

"And I want to be clear that it remains our priority to get school buildings open again for all pupils as quickly as possible and then keep them open."

When will schools reopen?

Schools were closed in January in line with the country’s lockdown restrictions amid rising infection rates, with the policy reviewed regularly.

The middle of February had always been earmarked for a phased return to the classroom and plans have since been announced for a return to school.

The decision will still be dependent on the country’s ability to suppress the deadly virus, Ms Sturgeon said.

A final review will also take place to assess the situation in the fight against coronavirus before plans for the phased return are implemented.

South of the border, Boris Johnson initially highlighted the February half term as a possible date for the diary which would see schools reopen to all pupils.

When is February half term?

Half term dates in Scotland can vary in length and dates across different councils.

Edinburgh, for example, is allowing its schools a week off between Monday 8 February and Monday 15 February.

Glasgow has given its pupils a shorter break from Friday 5 February to Wednesday 10 February.

Others, such as Aberdeen, are only off for a few days from 15-17 February.

Check the exact dates in your area through the government website.

What does this mean for exams?

Scotland has cancelled its higher and advanced higher exams for 2021, with final grades based on teacher assessment.

The country's National 5 exams have also been cancelled.

John Swinney, the education secretary, said the disruption Covid has caused to the education system has seen many pupils already lose "significant learning time".