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First Minister suggests Scottish Government looking at August 11 for reopening of schools

Scottish schools have been closed since March.
Scottish schools have been closed since March.

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed the Scottish Government is considering an August 11 reopening of schools with teachers going back to classrooms next month.

The first minister said the impact of the coronavirus on children’s education “worried” her and said she wanted to reopen schools, which have been closed since March, as soon as it was safe to do so.

At her daily coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon was asked about reports suggesting the Scottish Government’s Education Recovery Group (ERG) is looking at classes resuming on August 11.

Before that teachers and other school staff would return to schools in June to work on a new blended system of in-school and in-home learning. The ERG is looking at proposals that would see almost all children receiving this approach if they go back in August.

According to reports, other proposals being explored include increasing the size of the school estate so physical distancing can be observed and increasing the workforce.

Pupils who are starting primary or secondary education in August could also be given in-school experience from as early as next month.

Implementing the blueprint is dependent on scientific and medical advice, PPE for staff being in place, and an effective “test, trace and isolate” strategy.

The loss of education, the impact on children’s education is something that I know worries parents, worries me and worries all of us.”

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister

Ms Sturgeon said a proper update on the Scottish Government’s thinking would be given on Thursday but confirmed the ERG was looking at those kinds of measures.

“We want to see children back to school as quickly as possible,” Ms Sturgeon said. “Many of the impacts of dealing with this virus worry me profoundly but the loss of education, the impact on children’s education is something that I know worries parents, worries me and worries all of us.

“We want to get children back to school as quickly as possible and we have to do that in a way that is safe and has confidence both of parents and teachers. That is why we are considering these things so carefully through our Education Recovery Group.”

A different approach is being taken south of the border. Boris Johnson’s government plans to reopen schools for some age groups from June 1 – a proposal that has led to clashes with teaching unions.

Tory education spokesman Jamie Greene said: “Parents are more than understanding when it comes to the current difficulties facing Scottish education

“But they need to see what the path out of this looks like, including vitally needed changes to current restrictions around childcare.

“Until there is clarity, it’s impossible for them to find a way back to work.”

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