Pupils at Scottish secondary schools will not have to adhere to 2m social distancing when they return after Easter, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.
The vast majority of school children will now receive full-time face-to-face learning when schools return.
However, shielding pupils will remain working from home until April 26.
Ms Sturgeon made this announcement at a televised briefing today.
She said that the “main priority” when exiting lockdown was getting young people back to school.
Shielding pupils to stay at home till the end of the month
She added: “I can confirm that having assessed the data with the input of our clinical advisors that when the Easter holidays end, virtually all pupils will return to school full-time at secondary schools and will go back to in-person learning.
“The one exception to this is children who are on the shielding list. We are continuing to recommend that they stay at home until the 26th of April, and that’s in line with advice already received from the chief medical officer.
“All other pupils will return to school once the new term starts. This I know will be a huge relief to many children and young people and of course to many parents and carers, and as I said a moment ago, by the end of April, we want to see children on the shielding list also get back to school in person as well.
“I know though the return to school, particularly for older pupils will cause concern and anxiety to pupils to parents and of course to teachers and others who work in schools.
“So let me give an assurance that we will continue to give paramount consideration to safety.”
Safety in schools
Ms Sturgeon confirmed that they were removing 2m social distancing in schools, with other safety improvements being looked at.
£45m of funding has been handed out to local authorities to help with this, with ventilation one of the main issues being looked at and improving the airflow around school buildings.
Twice weekly lateral flow testing is also available to staff and pupils, with the First Minister urging people to take advantage of this.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Through these improvements, we will do everything possible to make sure the return to school is safe
“In addition, more teachers and parents will also be receiving the vaccine.
“Detailed guidance for schools was published a fortnight ago, and I know that staff have been working hard since then to prepare for this return.
“For now, let me thank everyone who is working to make this return to school possible.
“For many teachers and school staff, I know this has been the hardest year of your professional lives, and I am very grateful for the way in which you have adapted to such difficult circumstances and I’m also very grateful to parents and carers and to young people themselves.
“The way everybody has responded to the challenges of homeschooling and remote learning has been exceptional and I want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone.”
Ms Sturgeon also confirmed that the first batch of the Moderna vaccine had landed in Scotland, with more than 1m doses coming to Scotland in total.
This means that three vaccines will be utilised in the country, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.