Coronavirus: More pupils return to Scotland's schools

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Media captionCoronavirus: Scottish pupils returning to schools

Thousands more pupils returned to Scotland's schools on Wednesday morning - after almost five months away from the classroom.

Schools have only been open to children of key workers since restrictions were put in place on 20 March.

Many schools are having pupils return on a phased basis.

Councils have been given some flexibility but the Scottish government wants all schools fully open by 18 August.

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Image caption Like most of Scotland's schools, St Paul's High School has been closed since 20 March
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Image caption New safety measures are in place but children do not have to social distance

On Tuesday the first pupils returned to school in the Borders and Shetland.

Except for children of key workers, most of the country's 700,000 pupils have not been in class since schools closed in March.

As students returned, additional hygiene and safety measures, such as one-way systems were put in place.

While there is no requirement for physical distancing between pupils, teachers should remain 2m apart from students or other adults.

Older secondary pupils are also being encouraged to maintain distancing where possible if this does not hinder the return to full-time learning.

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Image caption Anyone who wishes to wear a face covering in school or on school transport is allowed - but they are not compulsory
Image copyright Getty Images

Face masks will only have to be worn by staff who cannot effectively social distance, however anyone who wishes to wear one should be allowed.

School buses are treated as part of the school building, so normal distancing or face covering rules do not apply to pupils, but they will have to sanitise their hands prior to boarding.

How are the schools in my area reopening?

Local authorities across Scotland are taking different approaches with the time frame for reopening.

Argyll and Bute Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, East Renfrewshire Council and Moray Council welcomed all pupils back full time on Wednesday.

Many children who attend school in the Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Clackmannanshire, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, Edinburgh City, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Orkney Islands, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian and Western Isles council areas are returning to school on a phased basis.

All pupils will be back in school on a full-time basis by Tuesday 18 August at the latest.

Weather disruption

The reopening of a number of schools in Fife and the north east has been delayed due to flooding.

Fife Council said some schools, which were due to accept pupils for the first time since lockdown, had been affected with power and building problems.

Glenrothes and Lochgelly high schools are closed, as are Auchtertool, Benarty Burntisland, Cardenden, Collydean, Denend, Kinghorn, Kinglassie, St Ninians, Torbain, Torryburn and Valley primary schools and their associated nurseries.

Freuchie Nursery is also closed, while Fair Isle Primary School is partially closed.

In Aberdeenshire, Mackie Academy in Stonehaven said it could not accept pupils after roads to the town became impassable.

Dunnottar school also said it could not reopen after lockdown after the area around the building was completely flooded and impassable even on foot.

Banchory-Devenick School, Carronhill School, Glenbervie School, Hillside School, Johnshaven School, Lairhillock School, Mackie Academy, Mearns Academy, Mill O' Forest School, Peterhead Central School, Portlethen Academy and School and Rothienorman School will also all remain closed.

Double trouble

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Image caption Connor and John Branchfield, Alice and Penny Beer, Ben and Josh Cairns, Stuart and Emily Miller, Malena and Lola Perez, Aria and Isla McLaughlin, Eva and Iona Metcalfe and Lianna and Kali Ptolomey, eight sets of twins from the Inverclyde area, pose for a photograph ahead of their first day at school

In one council area, teachers were seeing double as nine sets of twins started school.

The 18 pupils entered primary one in Inverclyde on Wednesday, with eight of the sets posing for photographs on Tuesday.

A total of 16 sets of twins were eligible to start school in the area this month but the parents of seven pairs decided to defer until next year.

Inverclyde Council said the area was increasingly a hotspot for twins, with the incidence of multiple births in 2015 - the year the majority of this year's new starters were born - at 2.25% locally compared to the Scottish average of 1.15% of live births.

Ahead of the majority of schools reopening, Scotland's largest teaching union - the EIS - lodged grievances with two councils over what it claimed were failures to facilitate the phased return of pupils.

The Scottish Borders and Moray local authorities have, the union said, failed to properly consult and reach agreement with it and other trade unions

The EIS said a lack of discussion around the flexibility of phased returns meant staff were under "intense pressure" over schools reopening.

A Scottish Borders Council spokesman said it was "extremely disappointed" and that the action would create "unnecessary concern for parents and pupils".

A Moray Council spokesman said: "There are arrangements in place across our schools to help pupils and staff phase back to normal in the first few days, including staggered starts and soft introductions to the curriculum, particularly for those in transition years of P1 and S1."

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