Coronavirus testing on staff and students without symptoms of the virus have so far confirmed just one in 1,000 as having Covid-19, the Education Secretary has said.
John Swinney said since the asymptomatic testing regime in schools began five weeks ago “0.1% of cases have been positive after confirmatory PCR testing”.
While the checks, on school staff and senior students are carried out using lateral flow testing, any positive results are then confirmed with a PCR test.
Mr Swinney revealed the results as he hailed the “quite extraordinary” take-up of the voluntary testing regime since classes have returned.
He also told MSPs on Holyrood’s Education Committee that testing for pupils, currently carried out on S4 to S6 pupils, would be extended to include all younger secondary students after the Easter holidays.
In the week ending March 7, more than 56,000 school staff and 12,000 pupils were tested for coronavirus, Mr Swinney said.
He added: “This programme is helping to break chains of transmission as early as possible, and I would encourage all those who are eligible to make use of the offer to do so when they return to school.”
With no date set for when children could be vaccinated against coronavirus, Mr Swinney later told Green MSP Ross Greer that he expected the testing programme in schools would continue at the start of the new academic year in August.
Speaking about school testing, he said: “This has been a really welcome development, and a welcome level of participation by senior pupils and staff. The levels of participation have been really quite extraordinary to be honest.
“And I am optimistic that will be carried on with S1 to S3 pupils when it is rolled out after the Easter holidays.”
Mr Greer, the Scottish Green Party education spokesman, said it was “extremely reassuring to see high numbers of both school staff and senior pupils making use of the new voluntary Covid tests”.
He said: “Green MSPs first pushed for this testing last summer, eventually forcing its introduction this spring.
“If social distancing is to be relaxed in schools, it is essential that even more effort is made to persuade both staff and pupils to take regular tests.
“With a huge amount of work still required of senior pupils in particular, we must do all we can to avoid outbreaks causing thousands of them to miss the critical final weeks before SQA deadlines. The scenes of last autumn cannot be repeated.”
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