PUPILS will not have to physically distance when Renfrewshire’s schools return next month but teachers will, new advice suggests.

A report from the Scottish Government’s scientific advisors states that “no distancing” should be needed between pupils in primary or secondary schools.

But it said staff should stay two metres apart from each other and put on a face covering when coming into closer contact with children.

It is also recommended that “higher risk” group activities, such as assemblies and gym classes, should not be reintroduced immediately.

The report states: “We conclude that, subject to continued suppression of the virus and to surveillance and mitigations being in place, the balance of the evidence suggests that no distancing should be required between children in primary schools.

“The evidence is less clear for secondary schools but at present we would support the same approach being taken in secondary schools on the basis of the balance of known risks and the effectiveness of mitigation.”

It noted that only a very small percentage of coronavirus cases involved those aged under 15 and that the role of children in transmission appears to be limited.

Teachers would only need to wear a face covering if they are face-to-face with pupils for more than 15 minutes and cannot remain two metres away, although any child or teacher wanting to wear one should be able to do so.

Education Secretary John Swinney said the advice would “inform the way schools can reopen safely.”

He added: “We are considering this advice as we develop comprehensive guidance which will give confidence to our school communities that the safety and wellbeing of children, young people and staff is ensured as we welcome them back.”

Steven Quinn, director of children’s services at Renfrewshire Council, welcomed the latest scientific advice and said staff are continuing to work on the basis of a full-time return for children at local nurseries and schools from Wednesday, August 12.

He expects to issue further guidance at the end of this month to help schools to reopen safely.

In a message to parents, Mr Quinn added: “We expect a decision on the plan for our schools and council-run nurseries to reopen from Scottish Government around the end of July.

“We know that, as parents and carers, you will have a lot of questions and we want to keep you informed. As soon as we have definite arrangements from Scottish Government, we will let you know as quickly as we can.

“Guidance will also be coming out on childcare and this will inform us how we can support our partners to provide out-of-school care. When we know more, we will let you know as soon as possible.”

Read all the latest from Renfrewshire and beyond


Scotland is in lockdown. Shops are closing and newspaper sales are falling fast. We're not exaggerating when we say the future of local newspapers and the vital service we have provided for many years is under threat.

Please consider supporting The Gazette in whatever way you can - by paying just 90p for a copy of the newspaper when you're shopping for essential supplies for yourself and others or by subscribing to our e-edition here.