Schools guidance kept ‘under review’ amid rise in Covid cases

The First Minister said that a more proportionate approach is being taken by Test and Protect.

Schools guidance kept ‘under review’ amid rise in Covid cases iStock

Nicola Sturgeon has said she will keep Covid guidance for schools “under review”, amid concerns over a rise in cases.

At the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer asked whether the current guidance is sufficient.

Greer, who represents the West of Scotland at Holyrood, highlighted hundreds of pupil absences at a school in his constituency due to the virus.

Following a statement on Covid by the First Minister, Greer told MSPs: “I’ve been contacted by a constituent whose child’s school is currently dealing with hundreds of pupil absences and a number of staff absences due to Covid.

“His daughter’s close friends both tested positive, but despite identifying herself as a close contact, she’s heard nothing from Test and Protect.

“This is a separate school from the one whose similar absence rate I raised with the First Minister last week. We know this is happening across the country.

“So can I ask if the First Minister believes that current guidance for schools is sufficiently reducing both disruption and infections, and how the Scottish Government are ensuring that funding allocated for ventilation improvements is being used in a timely manner?”

The issue was raised by Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer. (Scottish Parliament TV)

Sturgeon said that a more “proportionate” approach is being taken by Test and Protect, and acknowledged that previously lengthy periods of isolation may not have been necessary by pupils in reducing the risk.

“On the first point about contact tracing in schools, obviously I’m not able to comment on the particular case, but there is a much more proportionate approach being taken by Test and Protect to identify the circumstances in which a young person is considered to be a close contact or not,” she said.

“Because we know that prior to the summer holidays, many young people had quite lengthy periods of isolation and therefore, disruption to their education, when on reflection, that possibly wasn’t necessary in terms of reducing the risk.

“But it is important that we keep this under review. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve asked for this to be reviewed and looked at and for advice to be updated.

“And the advice I have is that it continues to be appropriate to have the guidance that is currently in place in place.

“But as the situation changes, we will make sure that we keep all of the guidance that is in place under review.”

Sturgeon also explained that work is underway with local authorities regarding ventilation systems in schools.

She said: “On the issue of ventilation and CO2 monitors, again there is work ongoing with local authorities to make sure that the funding that has been provided for CO2 monitors are being used, that C02 monitors are being used in all school and education settings.

“But crucially, that that is supporting what we’ve set out before, the process of assessment that we’ve asked to be completed before the October break to decide whether there are any longer-term changes to the ventilation systems required in schools.

“And again, we will report on that as regularly as possible, but the work is underway with local authorities to ensure that that is being done.”

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