John Swinney: ‘Schools not contributing significantly to spread of coronavirus’

Education Secretary John Swinney has claimed Scotland’s schools are “not a significant area of transmission” for Covid-19 – despite union chiefs demanding part-time schooling in areas of the country placed under Level 4 restrictions.

Both the EIS and NASUWT teaching unions are calling for blended learning models to be introduced in these areas, with pupils attending classes on some days while learning from home the rest of the week.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Teachers understand the importance of schools to the lives of young people and would wish to see schools open, but not at any cost.”

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His comments came after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed 11 council areas, which are home to some two million Scots, would be placed under the strictest coronavirus restrictions from Friday.

John Swinney has insisted Scotland’s schools are “not a significant area of transmission” for coronavirus.
John Swinney has insisted Scotland’s schools are “not a significant area of transmission” for coronavirus.

The move will shut bars, restaurants and all non-essential shops, with gyms, hairdressers, libraries and visitor attractions also told to close.

But schools, which were closed in the initial Covid-19 lockdown, will be able to stay open, with Mr Swinney insisting “robust” safety measures were in place.

He said that only 0.1% of pupils had tested positive, stating: “Schools are not significant areas for transmission of the virus.”

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Swinney said: “All the evidence points to the fact that schools are not contributing significantly to the spread of the virus.

“We have isolated cases in schools which are essentially a product of community transmission, which is then taking those infections into individual schools.”

He insisted that having schools remain open was “absolutely central to the wellbeing of children and young people within our country”.

But Mr Swinney also stressed that “those schools must be safe, they must be organised, they must be following all of the guidance we have in place”.

He also said that the Scottish Government was constantly monitoring schools “to make sure all the appropriate measures have been taking place”.

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