SECONDARY schools in Scotland will be asked to “take a practical approach” and adjust classrooms to allow pupils to socially distance when classrooms re-open next month.

Education Secretary John Swinney told MSPs that school transport will be seen as “an extension of the school estate”, meaning no social distancing between pupils will be needed.

While pupils in primary schools will not need to socially distance when institutions re-open on August 11, subject to the virus continuing to be suppressed, secondary schools will be asked to ensure young people socially distance “where possible”, but not putting at risk the ability for schools to re-open on a full-time basis.

In his statement, Mr Swinney pointed to expert scientific advice.

He said: “Subject to complimentary risk mitigation measures being implemented, there is no requirement for physical distancing between children in primary schools.

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“Although the advisory group recommended that, on balance, no physical distancing is needed amongst secondary school pupils, they also noted that the position as less clear in that respect.”

He added: “After considering carefully that advice, and the views of stakeholders, the education recovery group is developing guidance that involves taking extra precautions and envisages that secondary schools will be asked to take a practical approach to maintaining distancing between pupils where possible.

“This could be accomplished, for example, by managing the flow of pupils and staff within schools and adjusting the layout of classrooms, subject always to this not reducing capacity within the school.”

But Mr Swinney stressed that “pupils should be able to return to both primary and secondary schools full time, with appropriate mitigations in place” and warned that “staff should observe two metres physical distancing from pupils wherever possible”.

He added: “It is the view of the scientific advisers that dedicated school transport should be regarded as an extension of the school estate. Therefore, physical distancing between pupils is not necessary.”