James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Nicola Sturgeon set to confirm if pupils will return to Scottish schools next week
16 February 2021, 05:37
Nicola Sturgeon is set to make a final decision on whether some pupils can return to schools in Scotland from next Monday.
At the beginning of the month, the First Minister announced that lockdown in Scotland would remain in force until at least the end of February, with some pupils returning to classrooms on February 22.
Under the plans, all children under school age in early learning and childcare would return.
Pupils in Primary 1 to Primary 3 would also be allowed back into school, as would those in the senior phase of secondary school.
However, the First Minister said older pupils will only be able to return to ensure practical work important to achieving qualifications is completed, and only between 5% and 8% of any school's roll should return.
Speaking at the daily briefing on Monday, Ms Sturgeon said these plans would only go ahead if the transmission rate of Covid-19 remained low.
The First Minister said: "We will look at the up-to-date data and take a final decision on that tomorrow, as we always said we would.
"I am very, very, very keen to go ahead with that if at all possible."
She said the cabinet would also consider an "indicative timetable" for the next groups of pupils who could return to school.
However, she also warned that now was not the time to expect other lockdown restrictions to be eased.
Dr Liz Cameron, director and chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: "The vaccination rollout has been significant across Scotland and the UK, and with vaccination milestones being reached, we now need to understand the conditions at which the economy can begin to reopen.
"We understand that setting specific dates can be challenging given the unpredictable nature of the virus. However, businesses need to know the trigger points over the next three months that will deliver the reopening of the economy.
"Only a clear plan to reopen will give businesses the confidence to plan, hire and invest. Without this, businesses and livelihoods face catastrophe."
The Prime Minister is preparing to set out his "road map" for relaxing measures on February 22, with March 8 earmarked for schools to start reopening to all pupils.
Ministers have said reopening schools is their first priority, but reports have suggested a staggered approach may be taken, with secondary schools going back a week later than primaries.
On Monday, Mr Johnson told reporters that no decisions have been taken on that detail.