NICOLA Sturgeon has today confirmed that schools will reopen, partially, from next week. 

She also revealed plans are being drawn up for a potential phased move out of lockdown within the next two weeks.

The First Minister made her comments in a statement to MSPs in the Scottish Parliament. 

Here, we outline the key points you need to know from the announcement.

Lockdown continued

Lockdown in Scotland could continue beyond the March 1 date previously given by Nicola Sturgeon.

Addressing MSPs at Holyrood, the First Minister said there would be just one “limited” change made to the current lockdown measures.

She added: “The core stay at home requirement will remain in place until at least the beginning of March – and possibly for a further period beyond that.”

Phased school return is confirmed

The planned reopening of schools to some pupils will take place from Monday, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister said the first phase would allow primaries 1-3 and senior phase pupils in secondary schools – only to complete “essential practical work” – to be able to return to schools.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald:

However, she added that further returns to school would not happen before March 15, given the need to properly assess the ramifications of the return in phase one.

The First Minister said: “I want to be clear, though, that the need to properly assess the impact of this limited reopening means we think it unlikely, at this stage, that there will be any further return to school before 15 March.

“As we consider these issues, we are of course doing everything we can to ensure that schools are as safe as possible for children, and for the education workforce.”

Senior phase pupils, teachers and school staff will be given lateral flow testing twice a week from next week.

Warning for parents

Parents have been urged not to socialise at school gates for fear of spreading coronavirus.

Speaking to MSPs in Holyrood, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the return to schools for some pupils from Monday must only be treated as “a return to education for children only, and not as a return to greater normality for the rest of us”.

She said: “If we all do that, then I am hopeful that this return to school will be consistent with our continued progress in suppressing the virus.

“And if that does prove to be the case, I am optimistic that we will soon be able to set out the next phase in the journey back to school for young people.”

Route-map to be published

The Scottish Government hopes to produce a new road map out of lockdown next week, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister told MSPs work was being done on a replacement strategic framework, which will put more emphasis on data as opposed to timings for the reopening of the country.

She said: “It will set out as far as possible the conditions that need to be met, in terms of the data, for us to start lifting restrictions.

“And it will detail the broad order of priority for reopening, including what a return to a geographic levels approach might look like in due course.”

Setting out an example of what the framework may say, Ms Sturgeon said it would likely advise Scots not to book Easter holidays, but added that “staycations” during the summer may be allowed depending on the data.

Current restrictions are working

Lockdown in Scotland has been working, Nicola Sturgeon has told MSPs.

When the new stay at home order was put in place in early January, average daily case numbers were 2,300 and have fallen to 810.

The First Minister said: “As a result, we are now seeing fewer Covid patients in hospital and intensive care – although our health service remains under severe pressure.

“Test positivity has also declined significantly – from around 11% at the start of January, to around 6% now.

“All of this – together with our progress on vaccination – is extremely good news.”

But the First Minister said “even a slight” easing of restrictions could see cases “start rising rapidly again”.

'Outstanding' vaccination programme

Scotland’s vaccination programme has been “outstanding”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister, who was speaking to MSPs in Holyrood, thanked health workers administering vaccines, as she said that 94% of people aged between 70 and 79 had received their first dose along with 58% of those aged between 65 and 69.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald:

She said: “Overall, though, the progress of the vaccination programme so far is outstanding and I want to thank everyone planning and delivering the programme and everyone who has come forward to be vaccinated.

“However, please remember that even if you have had the vaccine, you must still follow all the lockdown rules.

“The protection from the first dose doesn’t kick in for two to three weeks and, even then, we don’t know exactly what impact it will have on transmission of the virus.”

The latest figures

Scotland has recorded 49 deaths from coronavirus and 773 positive tests in the past 24 hours, Scottish Government figures show.

It brings the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 6,764.

The latest statistics show 193,148 people have tested positive in Scotland, up from 192,375 the previous day.

The daily test positivity rate is 6%, down from 7%.

There are 1,383 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, down 45 in 24 hours, and 100 patients are in intensive care, down two.

A total of 1,288,004 people have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine as of Tuesday morning and 17,137 have received their second dose.