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Phased return for Aberdeenshire's schools confirmed from Monday for three primary year groups

By David Porter

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Addressing the Scottish Parliament today First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has updated the country following the latest review of lockdown.

The First Minister updated on the situation and a limited return for schools
The First Minister updated on the situation and a limited return for schools

She said: "There are no immediate changes, the core stay at home will remain until at least the start of March

"But the phased return to school will go ahead from Monday.

"As of Tuesday 1,288,004 people have had their first dose which equates to 28 per cent of the adult population and uptake rates have been exceptional."

She continued: "In the weeks ahead we are hopeful that vaccinations will significantly reduce the number of covid deaths.

"We are in a race between the virus and the vaccine and we can and will win if we are prepared to stick with it.

"Lockdown has been working,2300 every day in Scotland at the start of January, today it is less than 800.

"Test positivity has also declined to around 6 per cent, all of this is good news, but of course has to be seen in context.

"Even after six weeks of lockdown they are only now back down to levels at the start of December and the more infectious strains are accounting for more cases.

"We know how easily this can run away from us.

"While better, the situation is still fragile.

"Even a slight easing of restrictions could cause cases to rise again rapidly."

"We need to continue to work hard to drive down rates, but we cannot continue in lockdown indefinitely.

"There are two points to stress, we must be driven by data rather than dates, but if weopen up to meet arbitrary dates we risk going backwards.

"100 normality is impossible, so we need to decide what matters most.

She said: "Being able to get children back to education is a trade-off we need to be willing to make at present.

"For now we must continue to abide by staying at home.

"In terms of the order of exiting lockdown - Primary 1,2,3 and seniors for practical work and those who need additional support, this first phase will go ahead on Monday.

"I hope we can set out the second phase of opening in two weeks time.

"It is unlikely that there will be any further returns before March 15.

"As seniors return, at home lateral flow tests will be carried out and schools are starting to receive deliveries of testing kits.

"2m distancing will also be required and updated safety advice is being published and an additional £40million is being made available to mitigate the steps needed."

She emphasised: "The success of this limited opening very much depends on us all abiding by the wider rules.

"The greatest risk comes from the wider contact in the population as a result, so I am asking parents and employers to support this.

"If transmission and cases rise again it would set back our progress, please treat Monday as a return to eduction only, not a return to normality for the rest of us."

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