Parents will find out later if their children will be able to return to school by the middle of February, as Nicola Sturgeon gives the latest update on Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
The Scottish Government has already said the current restrictions will last until at least the middle of February but the statement to MSPs on Tuesday will provide some detail on “other steps we are planning to take”, the First Minister said.
These include going further than current proposals by the UK for quarantine hotels and other measures aimed at making current travel rules “more effective”.
Most pupils in Scotland are currently taking part in online learning, with only those deemed vulnerable and the children of key workers attending school.
At the last review on January 19 the Scottish Government said the earliest date schools could possibly open for pupils who are not vulnerable or children of key workers was being pushed back to at least mid-February.
Teaching union the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has urged the Scottish Government to err on the side of caution before planning school reopening and urged it “not to gamble with school safety”.
Its general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Everyone is keen to see schools reopen as soon as possible but this can only happen when it is safe to do, both in terms of suppressing community infection levels and also operating schools safely.
“Whilst community infection levels have dropped, they remain high and a premature opening of schools would simply push the R figure up again, leading potentially to a further period of lockdown.”
Ms Sturgeon said that Tuesday’s statement will cover some of the measures the Scottish Government will take to “help us control the virus as we continue to suppress it, and in time gradually start to ease the lockdown restrictions.”
She said on Monday that “the current lockdown is working” as infections are falling – with 848 new cases recorded in Scotland in the previous 24 hours, and a daily test positivity rate of 9.5%.
The First Minister added: “That said, case numbers are still high, too high, much higher than we would want them to be, so we need to get them down further – then we need to keep them as low as possible.”
On Tuesday the Scottish Government will also give an update on asymptomatic community testing after pilot projects were run towards the end of last year, with councils having put forward plans for making “much more extensive use” of community testing.