Covid testing to start in West Lothian schools

Asymptomatic testing will be available to all staff working in primary, secondary and special schools, and S4-S6 secondary school pupils in West Lothian, after the February school holiday break

Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 7:00 am
Photo by John Devlin. Stock shot of pupils wearing face masks/coverings.

The Scotland wide programme is being put in place by the Scottish Government. Schools will contact all staff and senior phase pupils directly to inform them of arrangements for picking up their testing kits, and will provide consent forms.

The programme is voluntary but school staff and secondary pupils are being strongly encouraged to participate.

James Cameron, head of education for West Lothian Council said: “The programme is designed to help identify asymptomatic individuals in schools at the earliest possible opportunity and asking them and their close contacts to self-isolate, thus minimising the likelihood of them passing on the virus.

John Devlin 31/08/2020. GLASGOW. Holyrood Secondary School, 100 Dixon Road, G42 8AU. Stock shot of pupils wearing face masks/coverings today at Holyrood Secondary School. Coronavirus: Face coverings for teachers and students introduced. Face coverings should be mandatory for pupils and teachers at post-primary schools, the head of a teaching union has said. Coverings are recommended for corridors and other communal areas of NI's post-primary schools from today. Education Minister Peter Weir issued the guidance last week after taking advice from the chief medical officer and chief scientific advisor. Schools in NI reopened last week with most pupils returning to classrooms. However, the head of a teaching union has said face coverings should be "compulsory". Justin McCamphill, from NASUWT, told BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme that "it is not good enough" that face coverings are being "strongly recommended". "We need to move from strongly recommended to actually making sure these measures are compulsory in schools and are carried out in schools," he said. Deirdre O'Kane, principal of St Patrick's and St Brigid's College in Claudy, County Londonderry, said the guidance "hasn't been clear". "The news had broken that it was going to be mandatory, that it was a requirement for children to wear face masks in post-primary schools - when the guidance letter came in it was just recommending it," she said. "So there is a lack of clarity whether or not children are obliged to wear the masks or whether it is down to personal choice." Image copyrightPACEMAKER Image caption Teachers have called for more clarity on the rules on face masks in schools In a statement issued last week, Education Minister Peter Weir said he was "recommending" that "pupils and teachers wear a face covering in corridors and other communal areas of post-primary schools from next week". The introduction of face coverings in Northern Ireland followed a similar move in Scotland,

“Schools in West Lothian will be provided with packs of test kits and will distribute them to consenting staff and pupils. Staff and pupils will then take the tests home and, twice weekly, perform the test on themselves. The results will then be registered on a Scottish Government web based portal, with the results used by NSHS Test and Protect to inform close contacts. The tests are only for individuals without symptoms. Those with symptoms should continue to follow the national guidance. The instructions for use will be on the kits.”

David Dodds, Executive councillor for Education, added: “As the Scottish Government has said, the exceptional arrangements to close schools from January were put in place as a precautionary measure in light of the latest developments at the time.

"A range of previously published evidence has made clear that schools are not high-risk environments when appropriate mitigations and safety measures are implemented, particularly within the younger year groups.

"There is to date no evidence that in-school transmission is a significant driver of increasing infection levels.

"However I think this is a positive step and more testing, generally, is to be welcomed and that will help to instil further confidence within the school community, particularly when we begin to see progress with a phased return of pupils.”