May 21, 2020 / 3:03 PM / 11 days ago

Scottish schools to reopen in August with measures to prevent virus spread

LONDON, May 21 (Reuters) - Scottish schools will reopen in August although at first children will spend around half their time learning at home and half at school in smaller classes to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, the Scottish government said on Thursday.

Scotland, which has a semi-autonomous government with responsibility for health and education, is diverging from its much more populous southern neighbour England, where schools are due to start re-opening from June 1.

“In reopening Scotland’s schools, our overriding priority is ensuring the health and wellbeing of our pupils and staff and giving parents the confidence schools are safe,” Deputy First Minister John Swinney said.

“This is not, however, a return to schooling as we knew it. Schools are not returning to normal at this stage,” he said.

Smaller class sizes would allow schools to better implement physical distancing measures such as moving seats further apart and staggering arrivals, breaks and departures, the government said.

Where possible, libraries, community halls, leisure centres and conference venues will be used to give schools extra space.

Teachers and other school staff will return in June to prepare for the new way of operating. Time spent in school will increase further as soon as it is safe for that to happen, the government said. (Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison)

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