Updating the Scottish Parliament on the state of the Covid-19 pandemic on Tuesday, the First Minister insisted the cautious approach is right in the “face of a dangerous virus”.
Last week’s strategic framework said all primary school pupils would return full-time, if data supported the return.
Now, it has been confirmed that a phased return of pupils will take place between March 15 and the Easter break, with all pupils given at least some in-school teaching in that time, before full-time schooling returns after the holidays.
However, when secondary schools return, face coverings will have to be worn at all times and physical distancing guidelines followed.
Ms Sturgeon also urged school staff and older secondary pupils to take up the lateral flow tests being made available.
The First Minister said: “I would encourage as many staff and senior phase pupils as possible to use the tests when they return to school. It is a further important way in which we can ensure that schools remain as safe as possible.”
Ms Sturgeon thanked school staff for their work to support young people during the pandemic.
The First Minister said: “I know everyone is looking forward to having children back in the classroom as soon as possible.
“I also want to thank parents across the country. I can only imagine how difficult all of this disruption continues to be – but I hope, and believe, that the end of it is now firmly in sight.
“And my thanks too to children and young people. I know how hard it must be to be separated from friends and teachers.
“But you have responded magnificently to all the difficulties of the last year.
“I hope that you are looking forward to getting back to school later this month.”
The Scottish Government will consider in the next week if the easing of restrictions can be accelerated, Ms Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister said figures in the past week were encouraging, and said she and ministers would be considering if the exit from lockdown can be moved forward.
She said: “I have always said if we can go further and faster, then we will not hesitate to do so.
“All of us want to move on as quickly as possible – and, as a priority, to see friends and family again. I hope that day is now not too far away.
“But to make sure we don’t see any reverse in our progress that would put that in jeopardy, it is really important that, for now, we all need to abide by the lockdown rules.
“So please continue to stick to their letter and their spirit.”
On Tuesday, Scotland recorded 33 deaths from coronavirus and 542 positive tests in the past 24 hours.
It brings the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 7,164.
A total of 1,634,361 people have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine as of Tuesday morning and 84,445 have received their second dose.