The EIS has welcomed today’s announcement by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that Scotland’s schools and nurseries will close from Friday of this week.

The EIS has been engaged in discussions with the Scottish government, local authorities and other relevant bodies in recent weeks, as concern over the spread of coronavirus / COVID19 has increased.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "The EIS had a series of constructive discussions with the Scottish Government about the need to make a decision to close schools.  The escalation of the situation, and the change to government advice earlier this week, led the EIS to the view that school closures were now an absolute necessity."

"Subsequently, the First Minister has announced, this afternoon, that all schools and nurseries will close by the end of the day. This decision will be welcomed by our members, who have expressed growing concern in recent days over potential increased risk to the health of pupils, staff, their families and the wider community."

"As the First Minister highlighted, there is a clear need for arrangements to be put in place  to deal with a range of important issues: including providing alternative arrangements for pupils in receipt of free school meals; appropriate provision and support for pupils taking SQA exams; and suitable arrangement for pupils of parents who are critical workers, such as those employed in the NHS or the emergency services."

"On the issue of supporting home learning during this period, a number of Councils are looking at online learning solutions which may offer some provision, although they most certainly should not be seen as a panacea – ensuring equitable access for students is just one challenge."

"We have written, also, to Education Scotland to suggest that rather than every Council or school reinventing the wheel in terms of providing learning activities while schools are closed, some national provision would be helpful, perhaps even utilising broadcast channels to engage as many young people as possible."

Mr Flanagan added, "The EIS welcomes the First Minister’s announcement and will now seek to engage both nationally and locally about appropriate working arrangements for teachers, in order that young people and their families can receive as much educational support as practicable during this challenging period."