A dramatic decline in regular coronavirus testing in schools has led education chiefs in Dundee to make an urgent appeal to pupils and their teachers.
The city remains a hotspot for coronavirus cases and the easing of restrictions has been delayed.
The mass twice-weekly lateral flow testing programme was rolled out in schools earlier this year and staff and pupils are encouraged to submit their results.
The test kits help spot cases of the virus in people who do not display typical symptoms.
However Public Health Scotland figures reveal a worrying drop nationally in the number of people taking the additional precaution.
In the week ending May 30, uptake was under 10% for pupils in S1-S3 and S4-S6 in Tayside and Fife.
Dundee and Angus pupils taking at least one test per week has also fallen well below the Scottish average, according to the data.
Perth and Kinross has one of the highest asymptomatic test results for senior pupils in the country.
School staff are also far less likely to complete at least one test per week than they were before the Easter holidays.
Under a third (30.8%) of teachers in Angus were tested in the last fortnight – however this is one of the highest of the four local authority areas.
School staff testing is lowest in Fife with 18.8% completing at least one test, while Dundee had 19.9% and Perth and Kinross, 29.7%.
It is unclear why asymptomatic testing rates have fallen so low in recent weeks however figures also show a decline across the whole of Scotland.
Pupils and staff isolating
And teachers in Dundee have been urged to help reduce isolation numbers by taking the asymptomatic coronavirus tests.
A letter written by Paul Clancy, executive director of education, warns the number of young people and school staff isolating is around the 500 mark.
He has urged school staff and families across the city to take the tests to help the city ease restrictions before the summer holidays.
Taking the tests helps reduce the likelihood of inadvertently spreading the virus when you’re asymptomatic, he said.
‘Everyone needs to play their part’
“We need to make sure young people and our staff are safe and we really appreciate the efforts they have made in getting the schools open again and allowing pupils to be back.
“We all realise just how important it is for the young people to be in school and any gaps in that where young people are having to self-isolate makes things difficult.
“Lateral flow testing is an important part of detecting anyone that could potentially be unwittingly transmitting the virus and that causes a chain reaction of self-isolation.”
Schools break off for the summer holidays on June 30 and Councillor Stewart Hunter, who is children and families convener, echoed for school communities to make a final push towards the end of term.
He said: “Dundee at the moment is one of the authorities where we’re seeing cases rise, not just within schools but in the general population.
“We’re trying to get ourselves back down to those levels and everyone needs to play their part.
“Staff have done an amazing job over the last 15 to 18 months and hopefully this will be one final ask for them and we can keep the levels down and start moving towards normality in the city.”
David Baxter, of Dundee EIS, has urged teachers to keep up with the safety mitigations, which includes testing, as the union fought hard to have them implemented in schools.
“It’s important that members keep on doing it even though the end of term is in sight,” he said.