Employers will have to be “flexible” with parents whose children have to learn from home when schools return, the Education Secretary has said.
But John Swinney said the Government is still “wrestling” with issues such as how the children of parents who have to go out to work – such as NHS staff – will be home-schooled from August.
The Scottish Government’s plan for easing lockdown measures – if the spread of coronavirus is controlled – would see schools open on August 11 with a combination of in-school teaching and at-home learning.
However, this model has caused concern for parents who are unable to work from home.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Swinney did not explain how the child of two frontline NHS workers would be taught at home, but said: “Our route map is predicated on lots more people continuing to work from home to contribute towards the work of their employers.
“We are not going to return to a pre-Covid normal of how schools or businesses operate.
“What this will require is employers to be flexible about the way in which they’re asking their employees to engage in work.”
Asked about the logistics of the plan, Mr Swinney said he and the Economy Secretary are “wrestling with some of these questions with the First Minister, to make sure that business and education and other aspects of the community are working harmoniously as we adapt to what’s a really difficult situation”.
On the issue of the Government’s test, trace and isolate strategy, Mr Swinney was asked about the target of having 2,000 contact tracers recruited by June, when just 600 are known to have been hired so far.
Mr Swinney said: “I’m sure every effort will be made to increase the numbers but 600 is a good contingent of numbers to have in place to begin the work on contact tracing.
“Contact tracing is only valuable where you have suppressed the level of coronavirus in the community to be able to manage all of those contacts and to pursue them.
“So we will have the resources in place to do that so that we can take forward the test and protect strategy that the First Minister outlined yesterday, and that will be an integral part in supporting the decisions that we can take under the route map to further relax the constraints that people are operating under.”
Mr Swinney also defended Health Secretary Jeane Freeman over accusations that she has lost the trust of the public over the apparent failure to protect care home residents.
He said: “I think any dispassionate observer would recognise that nobody could have given more commitment to leading the health service during this pandemic than Jeane Freeman.”
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