Scottish Greens: COVID testing must be ready for schools return

Regular testing must underpin the return of schools from 11 August, the Scottish Greens have said.

First Minister Nicola Surgeon has confirmed that school will return from 11 August, supported by an ‘enhanced surveillance programme’ of testing.

However, under questioning by Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, she could not confirm the testing programme would be in place for the start of term. Instead, she said it would be phased in.

Mr Harvie also asked the First Minister to go further with the programme and commit to regular testing of school staff to help prevent new outbreaks of COVID-19.

Commenting, Patrick Harvie said: “Public safety must remain the overriding priority, and if the return to school is going to be safe it must be underpinned by a rigorous testing regime. It’s therefore concerning that the government’s testing programme won’t be ready for the start of term, especially since ministers been targeting a full return for weeks.

“We know the coronavirus can be passed on by people who are not displaying symptoms, so it is vital that all staff are tested regularly if we are going to protect schools from new outbreaks, which would put both education and people’s lives at risk.

"The return of football is underpinned by weekly testing, and the return of schools should have the same reassurances in place. It’s unacceptable that a footballer playing in front of an empty stadium should feel safer than a teacher going into a packed classroom.”