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The lockdown in Scotland will continue until ‘at least’ the end of February, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
In an update to the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, she said the number of cases of Covid in Scotland was still too high and that pressure on the NHS remained severe.
However, she said progress had been made, with daily cases having more than halved and hospital admissions appearing to have peaked.
The announcement follows a meeting of the Scottish Government cabinet this morning.
Miss Sturgeon said: ‘The cabinet decided that the current lockdown, including the stay at home except for essential purposes requirement does need to remain in place at least until the end of February.’
In terms of pupils returning to school, Miss Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would look at the ‘careful and gradual’ return to school from February 22 following the February mid-term break.
She said the dates were still subject to ‘continued progress’ in suppressing the virus and would be subject to final confirmation following a review in a fortnight’s time.
‘Our intention is that from the week beginning February 22 there will be a full-time return of early learning and child care for all children below school age.’
A full-time return to school for all pupils in primaries 1-3.
A part-time return, albeit on a limited basis, for senior phase pupils to allow in-school practical work that is necessary for the completion of National Qualification courses.
‘It is intended that no more than around five to eight per cent will be physically present at any one time,’ she said.
There will be ‘small increases’ in existing provision for children and young people with ‘significant’ additional support needs where there is a ‘clear and demonstrable necessity’.
It is expected that the decisions will be confirmed in two weeks’ time and the next stage of the gradual phased return to school will be set out, said Miss Sturgeon.
She said she also hoped that at that time she could set out an ‘indicative’ timescale for the return of learning in Scotland’s universities and colleges.
TESTING IN EDUCATION
She said testing would also be rolled out to those who work in schools, early learning and child care settings to provide ‘at home’ testing twice a week.
On Monday in Scotland there were 758 positive cases – 7.4 per cent of all tests carried out. The overall number of confirmed positive cases in Scotland is now 181,291. A total of 1,931 people are in hospital with Covid-19 – which is a fall of 19 on yesterday.