Pupils will return to schools in Scotland for full-time teaching after the summer break, the First Minister confirmed.
Addressing the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon announced that primary and secondary school pupils can return to classrooms from August 11, after nearly five months off due to Covid-19.
She said some councils may opt for a phased return over the first few days – but all pupils are expected to be back in schools by August 18.
The First Minister said: “It is a moral and educational imperative that we get children back to school as soon as is safely possible.
“In fact, a key reason for our cautious approach to lockdown over the last two months and over the next few weeks, is a determination to drive the virus down and keep prevalence low, so that schools can reopen in August.
“I am therefore pleased to confirm today that schools will return from August 11.
“Given how long children have been out of school, some local authorities may opt for a phased return over the first few days.
“But we expect all pupils to be at school full-time from August 18 at the latest.”
Ms Sturgeon also outlined new guidance for teachers and pupils ahead of the return to learning.
She said physical distancing between pupils will not be required “in general” while on school grounds. However, distance should be maintained between pupils in secondary schools where possible – as long as it does not compromise the return to full-time teaching.
Staff must maintain physical distancing between each other and between pupils.
The new guidance also includes the introduction of risk-mitigation measures, including ventilation, good hygiene practices and improved cleaning regimes.
Ms Sturgeon added: “We will also establish an enhanced surveillance programme in schools, which will allow us to identify any impact of the virus on pupils and staff in schools across the country.”
To help schools, Nicola Sturgeon also announced extra cash to recruit more teachers and for measures such as enhanced cleaning.
She said: “I can also confirm that – in addition to the £45 million previously announced – we will make a further £30 million available to support the recruitment of additional teachers.
“We anticipate that this total investment of £75 million will enable the recruitment of around 1,400 extra teachers.
“In addition, will invest a further £30 million – on top of £20 million already announced – as part of a £50 million education recovery fund for local authorities.
“This will support extra cleaning, facilities management, school transport and other practical measures that are vital in ensuring a safe return to school.”