Surveillance testing for coronavirus in schools will provide “an extra level of assurance” on safety for parents, pupils and staff, the Education Secretary has said.
John Swinney said the testing will be in addition to routine contact tracing for the disease, done via the Test and Protect system.
He promised parents and teachers there will be “extensive” surveillance testing “across a broad range of schools in Scotland to make sure we can pick up any intelligence 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 or if pupils have to be taught via blended learning, which could mean some children spend as little as one day a week in the classroom.
With Parliament having to be informed first, parents, children and school staff will not find out what is happening until Thursday, when Nicola Sturgeon will makes a statement to MSPs after lockdown is reviewed.
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”, Mr Swinney said.
This guidance will be published on Thursday, after Ms Sturgeon’s statement.
Mr 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 £50 million 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 £20 million 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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