Plans were drawn up for a “blended model” of learning by Nicola Sturgeon’s administration last month which would have seen pupils attending classes for some of the week and learning from home the rest of the time. But Mr Swinney told MSPs this afternoon that schools will be able to reopen to all pupils from August 11 so long as the spread of the disease “is sufficiently low to provide assurance that we can continue to control the virus”.
Speaking in Holyrood this afternoon, Mr Swinney, said: “Since May, because of the efforts of our fellow citizens to stay at home, we have seen Scotland make significant progress.
“If we stay on track, if we all continue to do what is right and if we can further suppress this terrible virus, the Government believes that we should prepare for children to be able to return to school full time in August.
“I must stress, this is the aim that the Government is now working towards.
“However, because it has to be achieved safely, it inevitably remains conditional and dependent upon ongoing scientific and health advice.”
A u-turn on reopening schools in Scotland with blended learning was announced today.
John Swinney spoke in Holyrood today.
Blended learning will be now be the Scottish Government’s “contingency” plan if it is deemed unsafe for schools to reopen without social distancing.
The blended learning plan however caused a backlash from parents who claim that the plans would “damage their children’s education”.
Meanwhile, opposition MSPs have slammed the governments move.
Reacting to Mr Swinney’s annoncement, Ross Greer MSP, Scottish Greens Education Spokesperson, said: “A great number of people will be breathing a sigh of relief at the announcement that pupils will return to school full-time in August, but for teachers, school support staff and their families, the anxiety will now have dramatically increased.”
All children will now return to school on August 11th, it is expected.
MSP Jamie Greene, Scottish Conservatives Education Spokesman, said the “screeching u-turn” had been forced on the government by “relentless campaigning from all quarters”.
He added: “The sad truth is that until now, recent events have exposed nothing but a complete vacuum of leadership in the handling of this issue.”
Scottish Labour Education Representative Iain Gray MSP added that the move was the “mother and father of ministerial climbdowns”.
He stressed that the new plan had come at the “last possible moment”.
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Jamie Greene took a swipe at Mr Swinney this afternoon in Holyrood.
Mr Swinney during his address also announced a £100m fund over the next two years to help support the return of children to school and to recover lost ground.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said planning for full time schooling could happen thanks to “success in suppressing” COVID-19.
On Twitter this afternoon, she said: “When it looked like the virus would make it impossible for kids to return to school full time in August, we developed a contingency.
“The contingency is still there should we need it. But our success in suppressing virus makes it possible now to plan for full time return.”