SCOTLAND'S schools will remain closed until Febraury 1 at the earliest, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

The First Minister made the announcement in Holyrood as part of a host of extra measures to combat the spread of the mutated strain of Covid-19 across Scotland.

The decision will be review in the middle of January.

The announcement will mean an additional two weeks of home learning for most pupils.

The Scottish Government had already announced the festive break was being extended to January 11, with ministers having originally planned for remote learning until January 18.

However, schools will still be open for the children of key workers who cannot work from home, and for vulnerable youngsters.

The Scottish Greens have called for a package of practical support for parents.

The party's co-leader, Patrick Harvie, said: “With schools closing for longer than planned, there is a need for a package of practical support for parents, not only from government but also from employers, especially for single parents, for those living in cramped conditions, and those coping with working from home while schools are closed. People struggled last time but got through.

"They need and deserve our help if they have to do it again."

He added: “I hope the First Minister agrees that teaching unions are rightly concerned about the safety of pupils and the wider community, as well as school staff - it has been appalling to see some people, including prominent political figures, appear to question their judgement and even their integrity in their call for a precautionary response to the pandemic.

“I welcome the fact that the First Minister appears to acknowledge that more needs to be done to accelerate vaccination for teachers and other school staff. We must see meaningful progress on this before the review date of January 18.”