SCHOOL staff and pupils across East Lothian were given an early Christmas present today as councillors agreed to let schools close for the holidays a day early.

Concern over possible positive Covid cases ruining Christmas Day saw a virtual meeting of East Lothian Council's education committee approve plans to end the current term on Tuesday, December 22 - a day ahead of the original date.

However, pupils will also return a day early on Wednesday, January 6.

A report to councillors said that the change in dates would bring East Lothian schools into line with neighbouring Edinburgh and Midlothian Council areas.

But it added that a major concern was the impact of Covid-19, with tests taking up to 48 hours to be confirmed to schools.

It said: "The revision of dates also helps address any potential issues that may arise in relation to possible positive Covid-19 cases and the requirement to carry out contact tracing amongst pupils and staff once schools have closed."

The report said closing on December 23 could mean having to respond to a positive Covid case on Christmas Day.

It said: "The end date for schools finishing for the festive break this year is very late, currently being Wednesday, December 23.

"Should we be notified of a positive Covid-19 case in a school that week, the Health Protection Team require us to trace and contact all those who have been in close contact with the positive case up to 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms.

"With this in mind, and with schools currently operating until Wednesday, December 23, we then face a potential issue of being notified of a positive case on Christmas Day.

"This would then require access to management information systems within the central department as well as in schools, together with the need to contact staff in order to carry out tracing on a public holiday."

The committee approved the new closure date.