When is February half term? Start and end dates for Scotland school holiday - and when pupils could return to class

Schools closed to many children to limit the spread of Covid-19 amid rising infection rates

As teachers and pupils brace themselves for another stint of remote learning during a national lockdown, focus shifts to when the classrooms will reopen for all.

It comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced all primary and secondary schools across Scotland will be closed to many children to help limit the spread of Covid-19.

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Schools will remain open for children of key workers and vulnerable children but all other children are being asked to continue their education at home through virtual lessons.

Many children will return to remote learning following the national lockdown restrictions on school attendance. (Pic: PA)
Many children will return to remote learning following the national lockdown restrictions on school attendance. (Pic: PA)

It is hoped the rollout of the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines will protect the most vulnerable to coronavirus by March, with children possibly back in school before then.

Why has Nicola Sturgeon closed schools?

Nicola Sturgeon pointed to two factors in her decision making - the overall level of community transmission and the uncertainty around the impact of the new variant in young people.

She said: "There is no doubt that of all the difficult decisions we have had to take today, this was the most difficult of all and its impact is of course the most severe.

"The evidence to date makes clear that thanks to the hard work of school staff and pupils, schools in Scotland have been low-risk environments for Covid. We will work with our partners to ensure that remains the case.

"That will include ongoing work on testing in schools and discussions about when, in the context of the overall programme, it will be possible to vaccinate school staff.

"And I want to be clear that it remains our priority to get school buildings open again for all pupils as quickly as possible and then keep them open."

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When will schools reopen?

Schools will be closed for the rest of January in line with the country’s lockdown restrictions amid rising infection rates.

There will be a review on 18 January to see if the response has limited the spread of the virus, with a view to reopening on 1 February.

However, this may prove to be too soon for infection rates to drop and allow for schools to reopen. The February half term is another possible date for the diary, given that Boris Johnson has earmarked this date for a return of schools in England.

When is February half term?

Half term dates in Scotland can vary in length and dates across different councils.

Edinburgh, for example, is allowing its schools a week off between Monday 8 February and Monday 15 February.

Glasgow has given its pupils a shorter break from Friday 5 February to Wednesday 10 February.

Others, such as Aberdeen, are only off for a few days from 15-17 February.

Check the exact dates in your area through the government website.

What does this mean for exams?

Scotland has cancelled its higher and advanced higher exams for 2021, with final grades based on teacher assessment.

The country's National 5 exams have also been cancelled.

John Swinney, the education secretary, said the disruption Covid has caused to the education system has seen many pupils already lose "significant learning time".