Monday, March 1

Some Scottish Pupils Back To School On Monday, Announces Nicola Sturgeon

Some pupils in Scotland will return to schools in just six days’ time, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

But the first minister said the wider lockdown in Scotland could continue beyond the March 1 date previously given.

Speaking in Holyrood on Tuesday, Sturgeon said the first phase would allow primaries 1 to 3 (four- to seven-year-olds) and senior phase pupils in secondary schools (14- to 16-year-olds) to return to schools to complete “essential practical work” if needed.

But she added that further returns to school would not happen before March 15, given the need to properly assess the ramifications of the return in phase one.

“We are of course doing everything we can to ensure that schools are as safe as possible for children, and for the education workforce,” she said.

She also told parents not to socialise at school gates, as it could spread the virus.

Sturgeon told MSPs the “core stay at home” requirement would remain in place until “at least the beginning of March” and “possibly for a further period beyond that”.

The first minister said while lockdown was having an impact on infection rates and the number of Covid patients in hospital, “even a slight” easing of restrictions could see cases “start rising rapidly again”.

“I know this is difficult given how desperate we all are to get back to something close to normal, but if we open up too quickly to meet arbitrary dates, we risk setting progress back,” she said.

“Indeed, because of the new, more infectious variant, our exit from lockdown is likely to be even more cautious than it was last summer.

“And secondly, probably for a while yet, 100% normality is unlikely to be possible. So in a world where we can’t do everything immediately, we will need to decide what matters most.”

Sturgeon said the Scottish government hopes to produce a new road map out of lockdown next week.

Boris Johnson is also due next week to unveil his plan for lifting lockdown restrictions in England.

The prime minister has said he wants to release restrictions in a way that is “cautious but irreversible”.

Johnson has said his priority is to reopen schools in England, with March 8 pencilled in as the earliest date, however he has warned this could be pushed back if the infection rate is still seen to be too high.

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