Lateral flow Covid tests for teachers and pupils twice a week

Deputy first minister John Swinney outlines plans ahead of a phased return to classrooms from Monday.

At-home lateral flow tests will be made available to teachers, pupils, and school staff twice a week when the phased return to classrooms starts on Monday.

Nursery children and youngsters in primaries one, two and three will return to the classroom then, along with “a very limited number” of senior students at secondary who need to do practical work for their qualifications.

Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing, deputy first minister John Swinney said pilot testing programmes have been running in a small number of schools in recent weeks ahead of a wider rollout across the country.

He said: “As part of that, we have been working closely with the UK Government to get test kits into schools. This process has obviously been affected by the severe weather that we’ve experienced in recent days.

“However, I can confirm that around two-and-a-half thousand schools have now received testing kits and we expect any remaining schools will receive allocations either today or early next week.”

Swinney said testing in schools will be entirely voluntary but encouraged staff and pupils to accept them when offered.

He also said parents and carers had an important role to play in making the return to education a success.

He said: “If you’ve been working from home up until now, please continue to do so even if your children are back at school or nursery. Your employer has a legal obligation to support you in doing that.

“Don’t use this return as an opportunity to meet up with other parents or friends and as a general rule if you find you are meeting up with more people than you were before once your children have returned to school then think about why that is.

“All of us should be minimising our social contacts right now.”

Swinney was speaking as Scotland has recorded a further 31 deaths of coronavirus patients in the past 24 hours.

The death toll under this measurement – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 6916.

But figures released by the National Records of Scotland on Wednesday showed that 9053 deaths have been registered in Scotland where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, as of February 14.

A further 885 positive cases were also reported by the Scottish Government in the last 24 hours – 4.4% of those newly-tested.

There are 1222 people in hospital confirmed to have Covid-19, down 39 in 24 hours, and 98 patients are in intensive care, up three.

A total of 195,839 people have tested positive in Scotland since the start of the pandemic.

By 8.30am on Thursday, a total of 1,386,152 Scots had received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine – an increase of 31,186.

Swinney said data for the week commencing February 6 estimated one in 180 people in Scotland had coronavirus – adding this was the lowest rate of the four nations of the UK.

New estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate around one in 180 people in private households in Scotland had Covid-19 between February 6 and 12.

This is a drop from one in 150 between January 31 and February 6.

ONS figures indicate around one in 115 people in private households in England had Covid-19 between February 6 and 12, with the rate in Wales at around one in 125 and in Northern Ireland at around one in 105.

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