Pupils will be back in classes full-time by mid-August, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The First Minister said schools can reopen from August 11 but some local authorities may chose to have a phased return over the first few days.

She said all schools should have reopened full-time by August 18 “at the latest”.

But what about the key questions – will children have to socially distance? What about wearing face coverings?

Here, we outline the new rules that all parents and pupils need to know before the return to the classroom – as set out by the Scottish Government here.

Social distancing: 

The advice maintains the view that, subject to mitigations being in place, there is no requirement for physical distancing between children and young people of any age.

But, where possible, secondary schools should take steps to encourage distancing between young people – especially those in senior school as an additional precaution.

Schools are encouraged to maintain children and young people in consistent groups throughout the school day wherever possible.

Adults within the school are expected to maintain 2m physical distancing between other adults and children/young people wherever possible. 


Face coverings:

PPE will not be needed in most schools, unless required by a risk assessment.

Face coverings will not be a requirement for pupils. 

Where staff cannot maintain a 2m distance and are interacting face-to-face for a sustained period of around 15 minutes or more, a face covering should be worn.

Anyone wishing to wear a face covering in school should be allowed to do so.

Coronavirus testing:

The Scottish Government says arrangements are in place to monitor developments and allow for a “rapid response” to any cases of the virus.

They say this includes “enhanced surveillance arrangements, test and protect and outbreak management”.

School transport:

Any dedicated school transport should be treated as an extension of the school estate.

This will mean enhanced cleaning of dedicated school vehicles, and the inclusion of hand sanitising before boarding.

Distancing between pupils on dedicated school transport is not required – but adults should remain one-metre apart from others.

Glasgow Times: Pupils will not need to distance on school busesPupils will not need to distance on school buses

Pupils on school transport do not need to wear face coverings, but adults should.

Anyone travelling to school on public transport must follow the public transport guidance on face coverings and distancing.


The Scottish Government says a “rigorous” approach to environment cleaning must be implemented to prevent the virus from spreading. 

As a result, consideration should be given to limiting the extent of which pupil belongings are brought into school.

Enhanced hygiene measures must be practiced, including:

  • Extra time for pupils and staff to clean their hands with soap and warm running water or sanisiser when: they arrive at school, return from breaks, change rooms and before and after eating.
  • Provision of adequate hand-washing or sanitising facilities throughout the school estate.
  • Arrangements to support young children and those with complex needs who may need assistance. 

Good hygiene must be practiced, with children, young people and staff being encouraged to catch coughs/sneezes with a tissue or elbow, avoid touching their face, and keep windows/doors open to aid ventilation.

Contingency plans:

In the event of a national or local outbreak, schools may need to introduce their plans for blended learning or close temporarily to help control transmission. 

Risk assessments:

Every school in Scotland will undertake a risk assessment prior to their reopening and kept under review throughout.

There should be further risk assessments for vulnerable groups – such as older staff, BAME staff, pregnant women and children identified as greater risk.

Risk assessments should cover facilities, catering and cleaning staff.

Pupils, teachers and parents should all be made aware of plans.