THE SCOTTISH Government “does not consider it likely” that schools will fully re-open “in the foreseeable future” - while working from home is “likely to persist as part of the new normal”. 

A new document has been published by the Scottish Government – setting out its framework for decision-making in lifting the lockdown restrictions. 

The document stresses that “it will not be possible to lift all the current restrictions at once, or soon” and warns that “some will remain part of daily life for the foreseeable future” - until a reliable vaccine or treatment is available. 

Officials estimate that around 26,000 people in Scotland are currently infected with Covid-19 and the R-naught infection rate is “likely to lie between 0.7 and 1.0”. 

READ MORE: Coronavirus in Scotland: Scottish Government advisor backs lockdown exit that lifts restrictions for majority but shields most vulnerable

They add: “There is some evidence that the current R number in Scotland is slightly above that elsewhere in the UK.” 

The document sets out choices and options the Scottish Government is exploring in lifting the restrictions, when it is safe to do so.  

All options “remain under consideration at this stage” and “no specific changes have been decided upon”. 

The Scottish Government is “considering if and how we could make changes to allow people to leave their home more often and/or for longer”. 

It adds that this would mean people stay in their local area and within their own household group. 

Government officials are also looking at “changes to allow people to meet with a small number of others outside their own household in a group or bubble that acts as a single, self-contained unit, without connections to other households or bubbles”.  

It is possible that this option would be introduced first for outdoor meetings and the number allowed in groups is still being considered. 

READ MORE: Coronavirus in Scotland: Covid victims could be quarantined 'away from household'

Amid calls for health services to resume, including cancer screenings, the Scottish Government is “considering whether and how we can resume these services, provided this can be done safely and without unacceptable risk”.  

The document adds: “The options under consideration include resuming certain NHS Scotland elective procedures and screening services, and the phased re-introduction of a wider range of social care support such as therapeutic group activities.” 

The Scottish Government is “considering a phased approach to returning pupils to school, when it is safe to do so” 

But the document warns: “We do not consider it likely that schools will reopen fully in the foreseeable future. Indeed, we are not yet certain that they can re-open at all in the near future.” 

The Scottish Government could develop a “chronological list of priority groups who would return to school in an agreed order” while also “modelling a new approach to schooling for the foreseeable future” which could see “most pupils are likely to have a blend of in-school and in-home learning”.  

The document adds: “This would include attending school part-time in blocks of a few days or even a week at a time, to enable deep cleaning of schools between groups.  

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“Learning at home will be supported by consistent, high-quality online materials which will be developed to support the curriculum.” 

The Scottish Government is also considering how it could lift restrictions on businesses, but the document stresses that “restrictions are likely to remain in place for some business activity for some time to come, especially where safe working is harder to achieve”.  

It adds: “Changes already adopted in many sectors, for example working from home and the use of digital technology, are likely to persist as part of the 'new normal’.”