Return of Scottish students after Christmas ‘could be staggered’ says Education Secretary

The Scottish government said they’re ‘learning lessons’ from September


The Scottish government may ask students to stagger their return to university after spending the Christmas holidays at home.

This comes after September saw the return of thousands of students to halls of residences with hundreds quickly having to self-isolate after a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Education secretary John Swinney told the BBC that the Scottish Government is “learning lessons” from the return of students at the start of the academic year.

He also said it’s a “priority” students are able to go home to their families for Christmas.

Swinney told BBC Scotland: “Some of the points that we’re looking at are around staggered returns of students so that they don’t all come back in one go, that we look at arrangements for how testing can be part of the architecture of how we handle that return.

“What we expect of students when they are returning home and when they’re coming back into universities and how they will spend their time, how their learning will be undertaken – these are all issues that are being explored.”

He went on to say a system of mass testing was also being discussed as an option, but this would require a staggered return of students to ensure that the system does not become overwhelmed.

He added: “We’re working with institutions because they have to be partners with us in how the learning is undertaken over that period to make sure that we avoid any situation where there is too much strain either on the testing system or there is too much strain on the possibility of the circulation of the virus when students return or, for that matter, when they return to their homes in the first place.”

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