Covid Testing Remains Essential in Schools

Created on: 30 Mar 2022 | Last modified: 30 Mar 2022

The EIS has said that free access to Lateral Flow Testing (LFT) in schools remains essential to protecting staff and students and reducing the impact of Covid outbreaks on the provision of education.

The EIS comments follow from the announcement by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today that the use of face-coverings in schools, as well as wider society, will be moved to a voluntary rather than a statutory basis in the coming weeks.

Commenting this afternoon, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "Covid cases across Scotland continue to be high, and this is reflected in the very high rates of absence amongst school staff and students as a result of Covid infection.

"The continued availability of regular, free, Lateral Flow Testing in schools remains essential to limiting the spread of Covid in our schools, to protecting staff and students, and to ensuring that the damaging educational impact of Covid-related absences is limited so far as possible."

Mr Flanagan added, "The early identification of Covid cases is vital to limiting the spread of the virus within schools. Replacing tests with advice to "stay home if you have any symptoms" is likely to lead to increased absence as staff and pupils err on the side of caution. 

"Given the continuing high rates of Covid absence, this will put schools under even greater pressure. Ending LFT availability as we approach the exam season in Secondary schools, where significant Covid outbreaks within a school could be devastating for our young people, is even more nonsensical.

"The EIS will continue to press the Scottish Government for the retention of free Lateral Flow Testing in our schools. The clinical need may be less but the operational challenge of keeping schools open is paramount."

On the planned removal of face-covering regulations in schools and across wider society, Mr Flanagan said, "The EIS believes that the use of face coverings has played an important role in protecting school staff and students and their families throughout the pandemic. It is important that, in our schools as well as more widely, people should be supported in continuing to wear face coverings should they choose to do so.

"This provides important additional protection for those who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed, and we must continue to do all that we can to protect people in these categories from the risk of Covid infection. If mask-wearing in communal areas is no longer required by regulation, it should still be encouraged as good practice."