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Covid-19 Lockdown: Next Steps

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 21st May 2020.

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The First Minister:

Yes, I can give assurances on all those issues. We have got to where we are today by working in consultation with teachers, local authorities and parents organisations, and that partnership approach will continue. Keith Brown is right to talk about the lead role of local authorities, particularly in relation to the physical infrastructure in schools, which will have to be adapted to accommodate the model that will be necessary.

I absolutely give an assurance that we will open schools only when we think that it is safe to do so. If we were to take any other approach—although we would not do so because we should never compromise children’s safety—we would not persuade parents to send their children back to school. If we are to get children back to school, the Government and local authorities have to do the work that we have to do, teachers have to make the preparations that they have to make and we have to persuade parents and pupils that it is safe to go back, because otherwise the whole thing will not work.

That is why it is important to take a careful, cautious and deliberative approach. Although we all want children back in school as quickly as possible, if that careful, cautious and deliberative approach means that it takes a little longer to give people confidence, that is worth while, rather than try to rush things in a way that does not command the confidence that is required. We will always try to do it in the most careful way possible.