SCOTLAND’S largest teaching union has warned that “more could be done to reassure school communities around safety” after Nicola Sturgeon announced that schools will re-open full time from August 11.

Schools and councils have been given the green light to re-open from August 11, with all schools “expected” to return full-time by August 18.

Around 1,400 new teachers will be employed by local councils after the Scottish Government provided additional funding following calls from Cosla, which represents local authorities in Scotland, that not enough money had been made available.

Ms Sturgeon has also announced an extra £30 million for councils to recruit new teachers after local authorities warned that the previous £50 million of earmarked funding would not go far enough.

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The total funding will allow up to 1,400 new teachers to be recruited to help schools re-open full time.

An extra £30 million will be added to previously-announced £20 million of funding from the Scottish Government to help local authorities prepare for the return of lessons including to support cleaning, school transport and other practical issues.

Cosla has welcomed the extra money being made available.

Gail Macgregor, Cosla’s resources spokesperson, said: “We welcome the additional funding that has been provided by the Scottish Government and this will allow local authorities to move forward on preparations for a full return to school in August.

“Safety is the key priority in returning and we have always been clear that any request for funding is on that basis. As we move through the school year additional costs are likely to be incurred by local authorities.”

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She added: “We look forward to working with the Scottish Government as we see these costs emerge. It is our expectation that Scottish Government will provide additional funding to meet evidenced and reasonable costs.

“I would like to thank all council staff for the exceptional work they are doing as they continue their preparations for the safe return to school for our children and young people.”

But the EIS union has called for more to be done to ensure that schools are safe environments for pupils and staff.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The decision of the Scottish Government to re-open schools with a full pupil return is predicated on the current successful suppression of the virus but as we are seeing in parts of Europe, that situation can change quite quickly. Even with full implementation of the guidelines and its mitigations, many teachers and parents will be understandably nervous about a return to the classroom.

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“The EIS believes more could be done to reassure school communities around safety if smaller classes were introduced as the norm, employing the many unemployed teachers currently seeking work. The additional funding announced is welcome, therefore, but this needs to translate into smaller class grouping to support physical distancing amongst pupils.”

He added: “Smaller classes would also provide real extra support to pupils, who we know will have suffered emotionally as well as educationally as a result of lockdown. Re-opening schools is only the start of education recovery.

“The EIS will be insistent that the broader mitigations proposed are implemented rigorously, particularly physical distancing between staff and pupils, which will have significant pedagogical implications. It certainly will not be ‘business as normal’. We will be seeking, also, further reassurances from the Scottish Government on proactive testing and monitoring of the school estate.”

The Scottish Greens have backed calls for more to be done over testing.

The party’s co-leader, Patrick Harvie, called on Ms Sturgeon to commit to “regular, routine testing” when schools re-open next month.

He said: “Public safety must remain the overriding priority, and if the return to school is going to be safe it must be underpinned by a rigorous testing regime. It’s therefore concerning that the government’s testing programme won’t be ready for the start of term, especially since ministers been targeting a full return for weeks.

“We know the coronavirus can be passed on by people who are not displaying symptoms, so it is vital that all staff are tested regularly if we are going to protect schools from new outbreaks, which would put both education and people’s lives at risk.

"The return of football is underpinned by weekly testing, and the return of schools should have the same reassurances in place. It’s unacceptable that a footballer playing in front of an empty stadium should feel safer than a teacher going into a packed classroom.”