Almost 50 coronavirus cases have been linked to a school in Moray, an area where residents have been warned not to let the region “get left behind” as the country continues out of lockdown.
Moray Council said 48 positive cases have been associated with Elgin Academy since April 14.
More than a quarter of the school’s population of around 1000 pupils have since been ordered by public health officials to self-isolate.
The council said the students have been able to access remote learning while in quarantine.
NHS Grampian earlier said it was aware of 46 cases, with no evidence of spread within the school.
Headteacher Kyle Scott has now written to all families with children at the academy.
He said: “I want to thank so many of our amazing pupils for following the rules both in and out of school.
“I also thank parents/carers for their support throughout; it has been so encouraging to read and receive words of support and I personally thank all those members of our school community for taking the time to do this.
“It’s by following the rules that we will suppress the virus, and as a school community it is so important that we continue to work together in following the guidance and adhering to these rules.
“If we continue to do these things and remain proactive in our response, I firmly believe that we will beat this virus.
“We are here for you as your school and we want to help in any way that we can.
“We will continue to work hard, liaise with public health as necessary and will do all we can to maintain the safety of our school and prevent any pupils from having to isolate and therefore miss time in school.”
Like other schools in Moray, the building is under an enhanced cleaning schedule, with daytime cleaners who continually clean touchpoints like door handles, toilets and communal areas.
The school is cleaned every night and sanitised ready for the next day, and staff continue to reinforce the importance of mitigations like face coverings and hand hygiene.
Moray Council’s head of education, Vivienne Cross, said: “These have been some of the toughest weeks of the pandemic for our school staff and families.
“We’re reassured by public health that our strong Covid protection measures mean that transmission is not happening within our schools, and ask our residents to make the most of the expansion of testing for mild or extended symptoms, and community testing for those without symptoms, to help stop the spread and further disruption to our children and young people’s learning.”
Scotland is due to move into level two of the Scottish Government’s five-tier Covid alert system on May 17, however Moray now has one of the highest rates of coronavirus in the country.
As reported by STV News last week, the region recently accounted for close to 50% of NHS Grampian’s cases – despite being home to less than 17% of the health board’s population.
Although cases are scattered across the region, Elgin has seen the majority.
As a result, NHS Grampian has expanded its testing and is urging those with symptoms including sore throats, headaches and diarrhoea to book tests immediately, as well as encouraging people to take up asymptomatic testing.
Ahead of the May Day weekend, Susan Webb, NHS Grampian’s director of public health, said: “We really are on a worrying trajectory in Moray and it is vital everyone ensures they are sticking to the rules to ensure the area isn’t left behind as the rest of the country unlocks.
“Until now Moray has escaped the worst of the pandemic, but we could now see Moray get left behind as the country unlocks.”