Children in Scotland will return to schools full-time from 11 August, with quick access to testing for all those who are symptomatic, and a targeted surveillance programme to highlight any impact on pupils and staff.
The news was a central element of First Minister Nichola Sturgeon’s announcement that Scotland will remain in ‘Phase 3’ of the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown due to the ‘fragile position’ the country faces.
Two sets of indicative dates have been announced for sectors that remain shut as a vital part of the country’s public health measures in tackling COVID-19. These indicative dates are contingent on the continued suppression of the virus. Re-opening dates for indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports courts (including dance schools) will be reviewed in three weeks to see if they can be brought forward.
The return to schools will be supported with an additional £30mto recruit new teachers. This brings the total additional Scottish Government investment in the teaching profession to £75m, enough to recruit up to 1,400 new teachers.
On top of £20m of funding previously committed, a further £30m will also be available as part of a £50m education recovery fund for local authorities. This will support cleaning, facilities management, school transport and other practical issues that are vital in ensuring a safe return to school.
During a statement to Parliament, the First Minister also confirmed that shielding advice will officially pause from Saturday 1 August, meaning those who have been shielding to protect themselves can now follow the advice set for the general public.
Routine eye care services can resume within community optometry practices and in patients’ own homes from Monday 3 August, and urgent dental care involving aerosols may begin in practices for NHS patients from 17 August.
The First Minister said: “In many ways, Scotland is in a better position in relation to COVID than I would have dared hope a few weeks ago. But this position is fragile. If we are not careful now, then in two or three weeks we could easily be facing some of the issues here in Scotland that we are currently seeing around the world. The two changes I have announced – on schools and shielding – are very significant, and we need to see if there has been any impact from changes that have already taken place. It is important, in particular, that we allow the impact of re-opening our schools to be assessed before we proceed with further major changes.”
Indicative date: Monday 24 August
Indicative date: Monday 14 September
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