However, children in early learning and childcare and primaries 1 to 3 will return full-time to classrooms from this Monday, February 22.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed this week that only strictly limited numbers of children and young people will return to classrooms next week, backed by strengthened school safety guidance and an enhanced testing for staff and senior pupils.
Very limited numbers of S4-S6 pupils who require to complete practical work in order to achieve an SQA certificate will also return from Monday. Pupils currently in classrooms – primarily the children of key workers and those considered vulnerable – will retain their places.
Ms Sturgeon said: “In terms of the order in which we exit lockdown, the Scottish Government has always made clear that education should be the priority. I can confirm that, in line with the advice of our expert group, this first phase of the re-opening of schools will go ahead as planned on Monday.
“We will need to monitor the impact of this change very carefully before taking any further decisions. However, I hope we will be able to set out the second phase of school re-opening in two weeks’ time. I want to be clear, though, that the need to properly assess the impact of this limited re-opening means we do not envisage, at this stage, any further return to school before March 15."
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country’s largest union for teachers and lecturers, is supportive of face-to-face teaching returning as soon as possible – but that should not override safety concerns.
EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Teachers remain concerned about the increased transmissibility of new Covid variants of the virus, especially aerosol transmission, and it is disappointing that the Scottish Government has not supported the introduction of medical grade face masks for staff, as they offer greater protection for wearers than simple face coverings.”
However, he welcomed the introduction of twice weekly testing for staff and senior pupils, and the requirement for senior pupils to physically distance.