A new survey has been launched which aims to discover how many of Scotland’s teachers and nursery workers have had coronavirus.
Voluntary testing will be carried out to discover if those working in education and early years might have had the virus, by checking for the presence of antibodies in their blood.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the Covid-19 Antibody Survey in education Staff (CASS) is an “exciting opportunity” to monitor antibodies amongst education workers.
Staff will be asked to register to take part in the scheme, with a selection of eligible workers then sent a home testing kit to take a small sample of blood. The test will then be repeated every month until summer 2021.
The Scottish Government has stressed the tests will not impact on the working activities of staff who take part in the research – which is part of schools surveillance work being led by Public Health Scotland.
Ms Freeman said: “This will help us understand more about the virus within educational settings as well as understanding more about antibodies and any protection they may give.
“I would encourage teaching staff to sign up once they are invited to take part over the coming weeks. There is no need to do anything before you are contacted.”
Dr Diane Stockton, the Covid-19 social and system recovery lead at Public Health Scotland, said: “Scotland’s education staff are working tirelessly to ensure the health and safety of children so they can continue their education in the traditional school setting, spend time with their peers and get back to something more like normal.
“The CASS study is intended to provide a more detailed look at this particular work setting and provide important surveillance for staff in the long-term.
“Any adult working in a school or early learning and childcare setting in Scotland is eligible to sign up for the CASS study.
“What we learn from participants’ test results will support and strengthen Scotland’s response to Covid-19 and ensure school settings are as safe as they possibly can be for all.”
Gail Macgregor of the local government body Cosla added: “The Scottish local government workforce has and continues to play a vital role the response to Covid-19.
“Ensuring essential services can continue to be delivered safely is a critical part of supporting the health and wellbeing of everyone in our communities.
“The return to school has been a vital step in not only ensuring the education of children and young people is maintained, but also in strengthening their mental health and wellbeing.
“Doing so has been a whole workforce effort and it is therefore key that all employees who work in and around schools are encouraged to take part in the CASS survey.
“Whether you are a teacher, a pupil support assistant, a cleaner, janitor, caterer, or any other of the many roles that keep our schools running, we need you to take part. Doing so will help ensure we know as much as possible about Covid-19 and that we can continue to protect you and everyone in our communities.”
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