The phased return of Scottish pupils to classrooms will go ahead on February 22, it has been confirmed. 

From Monday, primary one to three children will return on a full-time basis, with senior pupils only returning for key coursework classes.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that any further phases will not be introduced before March 15, which will allow time for the Scottish Government to assess the return of phase one. 

She 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 March 15.

“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.”

While the majority of school pupils will continue to learn from home, Ms Sturgeon announced an array of changes that youths and staff can expect on their return. 

Here, we outline the key changes:


Senior pupils, teachers and workers in childcare settings will be given facilities to self-test themselves for coronavirus twice a week. 

The twice-weekly tests will be introduced in a bid to prevent an transmission of the virus.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This testing offer will be in place for schools as soon as possible to support their return, and we will extend it to the wider childcare sector in the weeks after that."

Covid safety restrictions in schools

Secondary school pupils and teachers will be obliged to observe a two-metre distance with the use of face coverings on all campuses. 

Social distancing requirements for primary school pupils will remain unchanged, however staff in early-year schools and nurseries should maintain the two-metre rule. 


Although education Secretary John Swinney has confirmed that the marking system used last year will not be repeated, the Scottish Government confirmed the exam system will change. 

Higher exams and Scottish National 5 exams will be cancelled this year for all pupils.

Instead, final grades will be decided by teacher estimates and a "quality assurance" procedure overseen by the SQA.

In order to reach these estimates, pupils will give teachers three or four pieces of work to use as evidence of a final grade.

Final estimates will be submitted to the SQA by Friday 18 June - a month later than originally planned, following the Scottish government's latest extension of lockdown to mid-February.