All pupils across Scotland will be back in the classroom full-time following the Easter holidays, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.
Speaking at a Scottish Government coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said the decision has been taken following an assessment of relevant data.
She said: “When the Easter holidays end, virtually all pupils will return to school full-time, so secondary schools will go back to in-person, full-time learning.”
Ms Sturgeon said the exception to this is children who are shielding, who are asked to remain at home until April 26.
Speaking about the return to schools, she said: “This, I know, will be a huge relief to many children and young people and, of course, to many parents and carers and as I said a moment ago, by the end of April we want to see children on the shielding list get back to school in person as well.”
The First Minister announced that Scotland recorded no deaths of Covid-19 patients for the fourth day running but stressed this figure tends to be artificially low over the weekends as most registry offices are closed.
She said there were 259 positive cases in the past 24 hours as she confirmed all people in Scotland will be able to get tested for Covid-19 twice weekly.
This move mirrors a similar initiative recently announced in England.
Ms Sturgeon said the start date and further details for the lateral flow testing scheme will be provided later in the week.
“This testing will be in addition to, and will supplement, the additional testing routes that are in place in priority areas,” she said.
“This more universal approach to asymptomatic testing will allow us to assess the impact that might have on further suppressing transmission.”
The First Minister said the coronavirus is “down…but not out” in Scotland, as she gave a further update on daily figures.
The numbers of Covid-19 patients in hospital in Scotland has fallen to 196, down 19 from Thursday when this figure was last provided due to the Easter break.
Of these patients, the number in intensive care remains the same as prior to the Easter break at 21.
The death toll under the daily measure used by the Scottish Government – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – remains at 7,614.
The daily test positivity rate is 2%, down from 2.5% on Monday.
Of the 259 new cases on Tuesday, 93 were in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, with 44 in NHS Lothian and 32 in NHS Lanarkshire, and the rest split over six other health boards.
The First Minister warned there is still a risk of Covid-19 spikes as are being seen in other countries, despite relatively low numbers in Scotland.
She said: “In total, cases have now fallen by 80% since early January when, of course, they were at a particularly high level, the number of deaths has fallen even more sharply than that and as you can see from the numbers I reported earlier the number of people in hospital and intensive care is reducing.”
She added: “Covid is down in Scotland, you can see that from the figures, but as we can still see here and more starkly in more parts of the world, Covid is not out.
“It is a virus that is very much still with us.
“Here in Scotland we are still seeing hundreds of people every day testing positive for it and almost all of the new cases that we are seeing reported now in Scotland are of the new variant that emerged just before Christmas and as we know that variant is more infectious than the variants we were dealing with earlier this year.”
Scenes of mass gatherings and disorder in the Meadows in Edinburgh over the weekend, following some lockdown easing, are of “considerable concern”, Ms Sturgeon said.
Police officers should not have to disperse crowds, she added, after a video surfaced of a major fight between young people at the park.
The First Minister also gave an update on vaccines, saying the first batch of newly approved Moderna vaccines arrived in Scotland on Monday.
Scotland is due to receive more than one million of the 17 million doses ordered by the UK.
The First Minister said these doses have already been factored into the vaccination programme, and will be delivered over the coming months.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The fact that we now have three vaccines in use is clearly very welcome and it does give us greater security of supply which is welcome.”
She added that by 7.30am on Tuesday 2,577,816 people in Scotland had received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 463,780 have received their second dose.
She said she hopes to confirm whether further lockdown changes planned for April 26, such as opening hospitality and more retail businesses, will take place or not at a further briefing on April 20.