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Schools staying open is ‘priority’ as Nicola Sturgeon dismisses closure calls in tier four areas

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The First Minister has said keeping schools open in tier four areas will be a ‘priority’ despite closure calls from teaching unions.

The EIS, Scotland’s largest teaching union, has urged the Scottish Government to return to blended learning in areas where tighter restrictions will be imposed.

General Secretary Larry Flanagan warned teachers were “increasingly concerned” by the rising number of staff and pupils infected with the virus.

‘Progress’ in Tayside and Fife as parts of Scotland to be locked-down under level four restrictions

However Nicola Sturgeon has dismissed the calls and said closing schools would have a negative impact on schoolchildren.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I’m aware there are some people who argue that schools should be closed at level four however our very clear view is that the harm done to young people by closing schools significantly outweighs any impact that schools have on transmission.

“Keeping schools open is therefore a priority.

“However we will keep the guidance for schools and how it is being implemented under close review.”

It comes as 11 local authorities were moved to tier four – the highest level of coronavirus restrictions in Scotland.

Angus, Dundee, Fife and Perth and Kinross will remain in level three.

Responding to the decision, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said schools must be given the option of shutting down in order to ease the anxiety felt by teachers.

He said: “In areas that are now at level four, the current policy of keeping schools operating as normal on a full-time basis is at odds with delivering effective virus suppression.

“It is not only about the safety of schools themselves, it’s about the role of schools in terms of local community transmission.

“It’s difficult to imagine somewhere with more social mixing that schools and pupils and staff then go back into their communities and their home and families.”

Coronavirus: More than 2,500 pupils missed school in one day across Tayside and Fife

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