Scottish children to return to normal schooling 'as quickly as possible' says Nicola Sturgeon

15 June 2020, 14:01

Ms Sturgeon said ministers expect councils to put in place arrangements that "absolutely maximise" the amount of time youngsters spend in school
Ms Sturgeon said ministers expect councils to put in place arrangements that "absolutely maximise" the amount of time youngsters spend in school. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Nicola Sturgeon hopes Scottish children can return to “normal schooling as quickly as we possibly can” as schools prepare for pupils to return on August 11.

Scotland has reported no new coronavirus deaths in the last 24 hours, with the latest figures showing more than 18,000 people have now tested positive for the virus.

But the First Minister stressed at the daily coronavirus briefing that the number of deaths are always lower at weekends.

While just 29 more positive coronavirus tests have been registered, new data means the total number of recorded cases has risen by more than 2,000 to 18,030.

She said both parents and pupils will be "anxious" about the impact the crisis would have on schooling.

There should "no doubt about the priority I and the whole Government attaches to making sure our young people do not lose out on education or have their live chances damaged", she said.

Ms Sturgeon said ministers expect councils to put in place arrangements that "absolutely maximise" the amount of time youngsters spend in school.

"The Scottish Government will be scrutinising council plans very closely," she said.

"And where we conclude all possible steps have not been taken to maximise face-to-face teaching and learning we will ask councils to reconsider and revise their plans.

"Where there are genuine issues of resources the Scottish Government will work with councils to address those."

She added: "Our aim will be to return to normal schooling as quickly as we possibly can, recognising that along the way we must build the confidence of parents, young people and teachers that schools are safe.

The First Minister said there are no plans for "blended learning" - children learning at home for part of the school week - lasting a year.

"On the contrary we do not want blended learning to last a single second longer than is absolutely necessary so we will be working with councils to return schools to normal as quickly as we can," she said.

"We want young people to be back having face to face teaching for 100% of the school week as soon as it is feasible."

The Scottish Government's regular three-weekly reviews of coronavirus restrictions will now include specific consideration of the evidence and data relating to transmission of the virus within schools and young people, she added.

Ms Sturgeon pledged: "Where that suggests that safety and restrictions can be lifted or eased without putting pupils and teachers at undue risk we will do so."

The First Minister added the Scottish Government's International Council of Education Advisers will also consider the experience in other countries.

Ms Sturgeon said that from Monday the Scottish Government will provide daily figures for all tests in the country, including those done at UK Government-run facilities, such as a drive-through testing sites.

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Since the beginning of the outbreak, 15,687 confirmed case of Covid-19 have come from tests done by NHS Scotland, she said, with 2,343 from tests conducted at UK Government sites - a total of 18,030.

There are 870 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, a decrease of 94 on yesterday, and 18 people are in intensive care, an increase of three.

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