Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 1st December 2020.

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Photo of Ruth Davidson Ruth Davidson Conservative

I welcome the news that level 4 restrictions will be lifted across 11 local authorities on Friday 11 December, and I encourage people in those areas to stick by the rules for the remaining time. Whether in level 4, 3, 2 or 1, having restrictions on how we live, work and see our loved ones has been difficult for us all this year. I recognise the effort and forbearance that it is taking for people to keep going, and I thank them for those efforts.

However, the question that I will ask the First Minister is about schools and the Christmas holidays. We have just heard John Swinney, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, being asked about what parents and teachers can or should expect, with insufficient information having to be dragged out of him in return. We have said repeatedly over the weeks and months of the pandemic that people need relevant information in good time in order to plan their lives. There are parents in council areas across Scotland who expect their children to be in school until 23 December and there are others who expect them to return to class on 5 January, but three days ago they awoke to press reports that there could be a nationwide break-up on 18 December and no return to lessons until 11 January.

For three days, we have had no confirmation from Government and there will not be a statement in the Parliament today. We are already in December and workers with children need to tell their employers what is going on, so will the First Minister confirm whether there will be a standardised nationwide school holiday this Christmas, when her Government will make a statement to the Parliament to confirm for thousands of families out there what is going on, and what provision is being put in place during this period for the children of key workers, who could be faced with a childcare crisis in little over a fortnight’s time?