First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of rushing schools open by senior union figures.

Addressing Holyrood on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon announced Scotland's back-to-school plan, including a phased return from February 22.

The decision comes as Covid cases across Scotland have decreased since the start of the year but have still stayed at a high level. Nicola Sturgeon announced younger children will return full-time to classrooms as long as progress in suppressing Covid continues.

This includes early learning and childcare for those below school age, as well as P1-P3 pupils. Senior school pupils will be allowed to return on a part-time basis to complete coursework that is necessary for the completion of national qualifications. 

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon accused of rushing reopening of schools

However, the First Minister said older pupils will only be able to return to ensure practical work important to achieving qualifications is completed and only between 5% and 8% of any school’s roll should be able to return.

Seamus Searson, General Secretary at the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, said: "There’s a rub in that the First Minister said initially that everybody should stay in lockdown until the end of February but it’s ok for teachers to go to work.

“Why can’t youngsters do the necessary practical work in March? Why does it have to be from the 22nd of February?

"I would really question why we’re running ahead of England and Northern Ireland, where ministers have, for example, talked about not bringing pupils back until March 8th at the earliest.

READ MORE: The 8 key things as lockdown extended in Scotland until at least March

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