Only a minority of schoolchildren and one in five teachers across Scotland are taking and reporting lateral flow tests despite the rising numbers of Covid-19 cases.
Scottish Government guidance is that secondary school pupils should test at home twice a week and record results.
Across Scotland only 2.8% of S4 to S6 students and 6.2% in S1 to S3 took and reported at least one LFT in the week ending December 12 – and the rates were even lower in Dundee, Fife and Angus.
Among school staff at least one test was reported that week by 21.4% of school staff – and 13.6% in Fife and 15.1% in Dundee.
Rates of lateral flow test uptake in schools are published by Public Health Scotland.
By the start of the second week in December the government had confirmed community transmission of the Omicron variant in the UK and 71 cases of it in Scotland.
One parent called for more proactive distribution of LFT kits after learning pupils in her children’s Fife school are expected to collect them from the office at break or lunchtime.
She said: “I have been really disappointed by the lack of proactivity shown by the school in getting LFTs out to pupils, especially given they have loads of them and the pharmacies and online have had almost none.
“The kids need to go to the school office at break or lunch but they are usually too busy then or forget.
“When kits first became available they took them round classes.
“I can’t understand with all the Covid guidance coming out from Fife Council and senior leadership at school that they aren’t trying to ensure each child leaves before the holidays with a kit so they can at least test before their return.”
Councils ‘encourage’ lateral flow test uptake in schools
Fife Council‘s head of education and children’s services, Shelagh McLean, said schools encourage staff and pupils to test and record results regularly.
She said: “As new advice continues to come from Scottish Government we are stepping up efforts in schools.
“Letters will be sent to parents in the new year, posters are planned for schools and more test kits will be made available in the run up to Christmas.”
Dundee City Council said test kits are widely available in its schools.
A spokesman said: “The council and schools are encouraging secondary pupils and staff across nurseries and schools to take regular tests and report their results on an ongoing basis.
“Messages are relayed directly in schools as well as on the council’s social media platforms.”
Angus Council said test uptake had increased recently since announcements on Covid.
A spokeswoman said: “All schools in Angus have tests available and are encouraging lateral flow testing by pupils and teachers using the guidance and recommendations from Scottish Government.”
Perth and Kinross Council said it has “continued provision of asymptomatic testing for all staff and secondary pupils through the issuing of lateral flow devices (LFDs) to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19”.