Wed 7 Oct, 2020

While it’s absolutely vital that schools are kept as safe as possible from COVID, physical inactivity presents a real risk to children too. Mark Ruskell

Conflicting advice for teachers about what physical education is acceptable under current restrictions could lead to a winter of physical inactivity in schools, the Scottish Greens have warned.

At Holyrood’s COVID committee Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell asked what the guidance was around indoor contact sports in schools, after it emerged Education Scotland had issued guidance this week that “physical education within school settings should only take place outdoors for the time being”. 

This was apparently contradicted by clinical director Jason Leitch in committee, who said he couldn’t “keep up” with all the advice. He said: “Outdoor is safer, but indoor contact sport  for kids has been allowed. We think in the round that that is as safe to do as some other things, and like you I’m very keen for that to be allowed to happen, for physical activity, for mental wellbeing and all the other things we know about.”

Speaking afterwards, Mark Ruskell said: “Teachers have told me that physical education is already being curtailed in primary schools, and we haven’t even got into the winter months yet. This is despite distancing guidance not being relevant to under 12s. Teachers need guidance from government and agencies to align.

“While it’s absolutely vital that schools are kept as safe as possible from COVID, physical inactivity presents a real risk to children too. This means there needs to be clear guidance on what activity is allowed indoors and support for schools to use more outdoor spaces safely where individual schools don’t have that capacity.”

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