Tue 2 Feb, 2021

The return of pupils to school from this month will be underpinned by regular testing of staff and senior pupils, it has been announced, which was part of a package of measures proposed by the Scottish Greens.

Announcing a return of nursery and junior pupils from the 22 February, followed by senior phase pupils who need to attend for practical courses, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said staff and senior pupils would be offered twice weekly at-home testing.

She also announced payments to people self-isolating would be widened, another call from the Scottish Greens.

Responding, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “I am pleased that the Scottish Government has widened the self-isolation payment, although this does not go far enough, and Greens will bring a motion on this to Parliament tomorrow.

“However, the pledge on schools testing is most welcome and delivers on proposals Scottish Greens brought to parliament and was twice backed by MSPs.

“It is vital the return of schools is not done at the expense of safety and that it does not spread the virus further. I am pleased the Scottish Government has acted on our calls for extra staff and testing, but capacity issues remain.

“We need to look at the practicalities and implications for teacher workloads. Many young people were required, often repeatedly, to self-isolate when schools were open before Christmas, so teachers will require additional support if they are going to be expected to deliver both remote learning and in-class teaching at the same time, as well as the additional test and trace work they are being asked to do.”

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