Wed 13 Jan, 2021

Regular voluntary testing should be available in schools as quickly as possible, to make reopening as safe as it can be Ross Greer

The Scottish Greens have welcomed new funding of £45 million announced for schools today. Introducing this fund, the Education Secretary confirmed that it would cover the cost of recruiting 2,000 additional teachers, a Green proposal agreed to by the Scottish Parliament in November.

The party’s education spokesperson Ross Greer has also emphasised that any reopening of schools to all pupils must be matched by the introduction of regular, voluntary testing for school staff and senior pupils.

The proposal to recruit 2,000 additional teachers came as part of the Scottish Greens’ ‘Safer Schools’ package, published in November. This suite of proposals, adopted and endorsed twice by the Scottish Parliament, also included the introduction of regular testing in schools and protections for vulnerable school staff.

Commenting, Scottish Green education spokesperson Ross Greer said:

“Parliament twice backed Scottish Green proposals for safer schools, so whilst its long overdue, the Scottish Government’s move to make recruitment of 2,000 additional teachers possible is a welcome one.

“The other key proposal we made for safer schools was regular voluntary testing for staff and older pupils. Instead of accepting this, the Scottish Government are insisting on more pilot schemes, which we simply do not have time for, nor do we need given the wealth of evidence already available. Regular voluntary testing should be available in schools as quickly as possible, to make reopening as safe as it can be.

“It’s clear there is considerable variation in education delivery across the country, and this is especially true for pupils who need additional support. Special schools have remained open, where staff are unable to maintain social distancing while caring for vulnerable pupils. We need to ensure that all staff are kept safe.”

Earlier, Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell asked the Health Secretary whether school staff would be considered for priority in the vaccination plans.

Mark Ruskell said: “It’s clear that if schools and childcare settings are to be reopened safely, then vaccinating school and childcare staff should be an important part of any plans. No one is suggesting they should jump the queue, but there needs to be a prioritisation of essential workers that need to return to normal safely and quickly.”

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