Education Secretary must put plan in place for testing and tracing in schools

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP has today called on the Education Secretary to set out what measures will be taken to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 spreading in schools and to reassure teachers about what will happen if there is a confirmed or probable case.

Ms Wishart said:

“I have been approached by a number of teachers anxious to know what precautions will be taken to ensure that schools are a safe place to work.

“At present the Scottish Government’s guidance says that “schools should contact their local health protection teams for advice if they have two or more cases”. This is far too vague.

“In New Zealand, if a school or early learning service has a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, they must close for 72 hours to allow contact tracing, and then potentially for a further 14 days. Teachers need reassurance that an equivalent plan will be developed and put in place so that outbreaks can be effectively contained.

"If a pupil is asked by a tracer to isolate at home, what measures and precautions would that trigger at their school? Might you get whole-school precautionary closures to catch outbreaks early? We are also still waiting on the Education Secretary to confirm what the approach will be for teachers and pupils who are shielding.

“Pupils, parents, teachers and other school staff need reassurance that proper precautions will be taken and that there will be a process ready to be triggered. That's how to catch cases early, stop them becoming serious outbreaks and avoid our progress being undone.

“There are just seven short weeks before pupils and teachers are expected to return to class. If there is a lesson to be taken from last week's confusion it is that the Scottish Government need to work with teachers to ensure education plans reflect the science and virus containment."

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