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EDINBURGH, Feb 17 — Scotland will start allowing children back to school from next week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday, even as the country’s general lockdown looks set to remain in place at least until March.
While British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that schools in England are to remain shut at least until March 8, Sturgeon told Scottish parliament that primary school pupils aged between four and seven in Scotland will start returning to the classroom from February 22.
Older pupils needing to do essential practical work would also be allowed back.
“The evidence suggests that the key risk in reopening schools isn’t transmission of the virus within schools. Instead, the risk comes from the increased contact that the reopening sparks among the wider adult population,” she said.
The impact of the gradual reopening would be monitored “very carefully” before deciding whether to lift restrictions on schools still further, she said.
However, it was unlikely that would be the case before March 15.
Nearly 1.3 million people, or 28 per cent of the adult population in Scotland, have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, Sturgeon said.
Britain, the worst-hit country in Europe with more than 117,000 deaths and four million cases, has been under strict lockdown for weeks.
Nevertheless, the situation has slowly improved and the leaders of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are mulling easing restrictions in the coming weeks.
Sturgeon said the Scottish rules would stay in place until at least the end of this month, but “a careful and gradual easing” may be possible “around the start of March”. — AFP
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