Are nurseries open in Scotland? When early learning and childcare settings could reopen, and the children who can go to school

Schools will be closed to most pupils until at least 1 February – how does that affect nurseries, early learning and childcare settings?

Mainland Scotland has returned to lockdown until at least the end of January in a bid to combat further spread of the new coronavirus strain.

The latest restrictions came into effect in all Level 4 areas of the Scottish Government’s five-tier system and will continue throughout the month.

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Among the new measures introduced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was the announcement that schools will be closed to most pupils until 1 February at the earliest, meaning an additional two weeks of home learning for youngsters, a move welcomed by teaching unions.

Nursery and pre-school pupils play and learn at a school in northern England in September 2020 (Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Nursery and pre-school pupils play and learn at a school in northern England in September 2020 (Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

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Here is everything you need to know.

What are the new lockdown rules on schools in Scotland?

From 5 January to 29 January, nurseries, childcare providers and schools can only open to in-person learning for children of key workers and vulnerable children.

Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon delivers a statement at Holyrood, Edinburgh, announcing that Scotland will be placed in lockdown for the duration of January with a legal requirement to stay at home except for essential purposes (Photo: Andrew Milligan - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Remote learning must be in place for all other children and young people from 11 January to 29 January.

Are early learning and childcare settings still open?

No.

Nurseries, childcare providers and schools can only open to in-person learning for children of key workers and vulnerable children.

Vulnerable children include those at risk of significant harm, with additional support needs, affected by disability, or experiencing adversities including domestic abuse and bereavement.

The full list of young people designated ‘vulnerable’ can be found on the Scottish Government’s website.

‘Key workers’ include health and care workers directly supporting Covid-19 response, and “those without whom serious damage to the welfare of the people of Scotland could be caused.”

A full list of workers classed as ‘key’ can be found on the Scottish Government’s website.

When will schools open again?

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme on Tuesday, the First Minister said it may be possible to lift the latest restrictions if the vaccination programme manages to push ahead of the virus over the coming months.

She said: “Lockdown is about trying to slow down the virus and push rates of it back down.

“Now, if we manage to do that, then hopefully we will be able to start lifting some of these restrictions while the vaccination programme is ongoing, even in that first phase of it."

In her address to the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said: “Just as the last places we ever want to close are schools and nurseries - so it is the case that schools and nurseries will be the first places we want to reopen as we re-emerge from this latest lockdown.

The restrictions will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis, and the Government “will always seek to maximise the number of pupils we can safely get back to classrooms and nurseries..”

She said the health service hopes to vaccinate everyone on the priority list – some 2.7 million people – by early May, but added it is difficult to be definitive about when the restrictions will be lifted.

“I can’t be certain about that yet, because it’s dependent on us managing to get the levels of infection down,” she told Good Morning Scotland.

For more information on Scotland’s national lockdown, head to the Government’s website