Coronavirus surveillance testing planned for schools

John Swinney said the testing will be in addition to routine contact tracing for the disease.

Surveillance testing for coronavirus in schools will provide “an extra level of assurance”, the education secretary has said.

John Swinney said the testing will be in addition to routine contact tracing via the Test and Protect system.

He promised parents and teachers there will be “extensive” surveillance testing to gather information about the spread of the virus.

“I know how important it is for parents to feel reassured that schools will be safe for their children, as well as places to learn and flourish,” he said.

“It is an extra level of assurance we are putting into the system to enable us to reassure parents and staff and pupils about the safety of being in the education system.”

A decision will be made on Wednesday about whether youngsters will return to classes full-time from August 11.

With parliament having to be informed first, parents, children and school staff will not find out what is happening until Thursday.

The Education Recovery Group set up by the Scottish Government has meanwhile agreed guidance that “can enable schools to reopen safely on a full-time basis from August 11”, Swinney said.

This guidance will be published on Thursday, after Sturgeon’s statement.

Swinney, who was speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, said: “I believe at this point we should be confident that our schools can reopen safely and our children can return to learning with their peers and teachers in school.”

The Scottish Government has already announced £50m of funding to allow schools to take on more teachers and support staff.

The education secretary said this cash will “bolster support for children and young people as they return to face education, mitigate for learning lost due to impact of Covid-19 and support closing the attainment gap”.

He has also promised councils £20m of funding, which will be “immediately available” to help with the logistics of reopening schools, such as taking on additional cleaning staff and buying personal protective equipment.

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