TEACHERS should wear a face covering if they are unable to remain two metres apart from others for a “sustained period” when Scottish schools re-open next month – while pupils could be banned from bringing items into classrooms.

Schools have been given permission to re-open on a full-time basis from August 11, with Nicola Sturgeon stressing she expects "all pupils to be at school full-time from August 18 at the latest".

Guidance issued by the Scottish Government, following talks with Cosla and trade unions, reveals that “two-metre physical distancing should be maintained between adults and adults and adults and children/young people who are not from the same household, wherever possible”.

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The advice adds that “subject to other risk mitigations being in place” there is “no requirement for physical distancing between children and young people of any age in schools”.

But the guidance adds that “as a precautionary approach, secondary schools should encourage distancing where possible between young people, particularly in the senior phase” - adding that “this does not have to be strict adherence to two-metre physical distancing”.

Experts have told schools to take “a rigorous approach to environmental cleaning” and “consideration should be given to limiting the extent to which pupil belongings are brought into school” - while windows and doors could be left open to improve ventilation.

School staff will not have to wear PPE for routine tasks but "gloves, aprons and a fluid-resistant surgical mask should be worn by staff if a child or young person becomes unwell with symptoms of Covid-19 and needs direct personal care".

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The advice states that “face coverings should not be required for most children”, other than those clinically advised to wear one.

It adds: “Where adults cannot keep two-metre distance and are interacting face-to-face for a sustained period, about 15 minutes or more, face coverings should be worn.

“Anyone wishing to wear a face covering in school should be allowed to do so.

“Should the prevalence of the virus in the population start rising, nationally or in parts of Scotland, schools may wish to encourage the wearing of face coverings, especially among adults and older young people in secondary schools.”

Education Secretary John Swinney said: “We have been clear that the return to school is not a return to normal. The virus remains a threat and schools will feel different for both pupils and staff.

“However, the scientific evidence suggests that the prevalence of the virus among young people is much lower than among the older population, and that young people are less likely to transmit it.

“This guidance we have published clearly sets out the approach that must be taken, including a number of specific risk-mitigation measures that will need to be introduced in all schools in order that they provide a safe environment for staff and pupils.

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“Individual schools will carry out risk assessments on their estate, as they will know how to apply the guidance in a way that works best to ensure the safety of their setting."

Stephen McCabe, Cosla’s children and young people spokesperson and co-chair of the Scottish Government’s education recovery group added: “The overriding priority for everyone involved is to ensure a safe return to education for our children and young people. At the same time, we have been extremely conscious of the impact that not being in school has on children, young people and families.

“The guidance is designed to give clear direction to all of those in local authorities preparing for the return to school. There are many issues to consider including arrangements for cleaning, school transport, testing and surveillance. Local authority staff have been working over the summer to make preparations not only for a full return but for the contingency of blended learning.

“Now that guidance has been finalised the hard work of school staff – cleaners, janitors, catering staff, teachers, support staff and youth workers - will be focused on making sure that our children and young people get the very best from their education in what will be a very different environment from what they were used to before the pandemic.”