Today we have published key findings from Public Health Scotland’s (PHS) COVID-19 surveillance in education programme since August 2020. The reports look at the prevalence of antibodies in education staff, infections among primary school pupils in Scotland and the risk of infection and hospitalisation in teachers.
The data shows that the occurrence of COVID-19 in school pupils and staff across Scotland is consistent with the trends seen in the wider population during the autumn term, such as the rise and fall of infection rates across local authorities and that the proportion of education staff with antibodies for COVID-19 reflects that of the general adult population.
New analysis also shows that teachers have not been at higher risk of hospitalisation due to COVID-19 than the general population since the return to school.
Taken together, the reports indicate that education staff and pupils have not been at an increased risk of severe COVID-19 by being in school.
Diane Stockton, COVID-19 Social and System Recovery Lead, Public Health Scotland said:
“Being in school is important for children and young people because we know the prospects and long term health of pupils is inextricably linked to education. COVID-19 has posed a real challenge for school staff this year to provide in person education. Local public health and education staff, as well as pupils, have risen to this challenge and their tremendous efforts have made being in the classroom possible. It’s reassuring to see that overall case numbers and cases among educational age groups have fallen since early November.
“We know that community transmission impacts on pupils and schools too. This reinforces the importance of reducing the spread of the virus in our communities.
“We can all help to protect education and support schools, pupils and staff to be safe by remembering to follow the FACTS guidelines and observing the rules of local authority protection levels.”
PHS will continue to monitor the data to inform decisions around the safety in schools now and in the future. This includes the roll-out of a school infection survey in early 2021 which involves PCR testing in older pupils and staff within a sample of schools.
Visit our education surveillance page to read the full report.