PUPILS will start returning to school from next Monday, in line with Scottish Government plans, Nicola Sturgeon has signalled.

Although SNP ministers will take the final decision tomorrow, the First Minister said she and her cabinet were “very, very keen” for it go ahead from February 22.

She also said she was not aware of any new evidence to make her reconsider the date. 

At the daily briefing, the First Minister said data on coronavirus in Scotland was all “encouraging and going in the right direction”.

She said:  “The cabinet will meet tomorrow morning and take a final decision on the return to school on 22nd of February.

"[This] is for early years children, primaries 1, 2 and 3, and for a very small limited number of people in the senior phase of secondary school who need practical face-to-face learning as part of their qualification certification.

“So we will look at the up-to-date data and tackle a final decision on that tomorrow. 

“I am very, very, very keen to go ahead with that if at all possible, and I know the whole cabinet is of that view.”

She said ministers would also start to consider if it was possible to give an “indicative timetable for the next groups of pupils” to return to school.

“But that’s not going to be immediate,” she added.

“I will set out more detail on all of this, to the extent that I’m able to, in parliament tomorrow when I make a statement after the cabinet meeting.”

She said that all of the data right now on Covid was “encouraging and going in the right direction”, although the decline was “plateauing” slightly and that had to be borne in mind for easing lockdown.

Schools in Scotland have been closed to most pupils since the Christmas holidays, with only the children of essential workers currently educated face to face.

Other pupils are currently taught online in the home.