NICOLA Sturgeon has given her strongest hint yet that schools will reopen full-time in a fortnight.

The First Minister and her cabinet took the final decision this morning, and she is due to announce it at Holyrood tomorrow.

Education Secretary John Swinney and council leaders said earlier this week they were “confident” that classes would resume full-time from August 11.

Asked about the decision at the Scottish Government briefing, Ms Sturgeon said protocol limited what she could say, but added the decision “won’t go in the opposite direction”.

She said: “I'm duty-bound to announce these decisions to Parliament and I'm going to do that at the risk of getting into trouble from the Presiding Officer.

"I think you know where we're trying to get to on schools and you've probably not heard anything from me today that suggests we're going in the opposite direction but I'll announce the detail of those decisions tomorrow."

The Scottish Government initially planned for a ‘blended learning’ approach which would rely heavily on continued home-schooling and as little as one day per week in class.

However after a parent backlash, and a decline in coronavirus, Mr Swinney changed the central assumption to full-time schooling with blended learning as a back-up option.

Councils have warned that, after a five month break from the classroom, pupils will need to readjust and catch-up with a “recovery curriculum”.

Mr Sturgeon’s statement on schools will be part of a wide-ranging update on possible changes to the remaining lockdown restrictions.

She warned that aside from schools and an end to shielding, there would not be “very much room for immediate changes” in other areas.

Emphasising her “very cautious” approach, the First Minster some parts of the economy would be disappointed Phase 3 of the exit from lockdown would be longer than three weeks. 

She said she was “sorry” that was the case, but the nature of the disease made it inevitable.

She said: “We have to consider the cumulative impact of all of the changes we make and we have to be sensible in the order in which we make changes, so we don't create a situation where we are doing too much, too quickly and therefore giving the virus the chance to overwhelm us again."

“Where we are unable to move to a further opening up tomorrow, we will indicate, as far as we can, indicative dates for the future - even though they will be conditional on continued suppression of the virus."