Schools in Scotland to begin phased return from February 22

2 February 2021, 15:15 | Updated: 2 February 2021, 15:21

S4 pupils at St Columba's High School in Gourock, Inverclyde, wear protective face masks during their chemistry lesson
S4 pupils at St Columba's High School in Gourock, Inverclyde, wear protective face masks during their chemistry lesson. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Some pupils will return to Scottish schools from February 22, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Addressing MSPs in Holyrood, the First Minister said that, subject to confirmation on February 16, all children under school age in early learning and childcare will return.

It will be supported by an expansion of the testing regime, with any school or childcare staff and older pupils being routinely tested twice a week.

Read more: Scotland to bring in hotel quarantine for all foreign arrivals, Sturgeon confirms

Pupils in Primary 1 to Primary 3 will also be allowed back into school, as will 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 be able to return.

The First Minister said: "The decisions I am about to outline are intended to give young people, parents and teachers as much notice as possible, but I must stress that they are subject to continued progress in suppressing the virus and will be subject to final confirmation in two weeks' time."

She added: "It is our intention that those who work in schools, and in early learning and childcare settings attached to schools, will be offered at-home testing twice a week. All senior-phase secondary school students will be offered this too.

"This testing offer will be in place for schools as soon as possible to support their return, and we will extend it to the wider childcare sector in the weeks after that.

"We are determined to get our children back to normal schooling just as quickly as it is safe to do so. It is our overriding priority."

The news came as Ms Sturgeon revealed travellers arriving in Scotland from any country will be asked to quarantine in a hotel.

The First Minister said a system of "managed quarantine" would be put in place for anyone arriving directly to Scotland, going further than systems announced in the rest of the UK.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs: "The firm view of the Scottish Government is that in order to minimise the risk of new strains coming into the country, managed quarantine must be much more comprehensive."I can therefore confirm today that we intend to introduce a managed quarantine requirement for anyone who arrives directly into Scotland, regardless of which country they have come from."

The First Minister also said that she could not "unilaterally" impose such restrictions on people landing elsewhere in the UK and travelling to Scotland, but hoped the other administrations would work with the Scottish Government to reduce the number of people doing so.