Today, Public Health Scotland and the Directors of Public Health in Scotland, have published a joint statement highlighting their support for all early learning and school children returning to face to face learning as soon as is practical.
The advice is based on ongoing evidence from PHS that shows; education settings are not high-risk transmission settings for children and young people, and education staff, when mitigations are closely adhered too; children diagnosed with COVID-19 continue to be in areas with higher community prevalence; teachers are not at increased risk of being hospitalised for COVID-19 compared to the population as a whole; teachers have a lower risk of having severe COVID-19 compared to the population as a whole; and; crucially, that the evidence indicates that transmission occurs predominantly outside of school, in social and household settings.
Dr Diane Stockton, PHS Lead for COVID-19 Social and System Recovery, said:
"The closure of schools in January was part of wider action to limit the spread of the virus across the community as a whole, with the emergence of new and more transmissible variants. It was a necessary step to limit the circulation of the population, and thus the virus, at that time.
"Being in school is important for children and young people. The prospects and long-term health of pupils is inextricably linked to education. That is why we have recommended that primary school children return to face to face learning as soon as possible.
"As with all measures to respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic, this will need to be carefully monitored, reviewed and supported by specific and stringent infection control measures, such as following FACTS in the community and in school, and of course the ongoing vaccination programme, protecting the most vulnerable people in the community.
"Working with schools, parents, local government, local public health teams, the Trade Unions and the Scottish Government, we are committed to prioritising support for the public health measures required to do this. Education provides a fundamental mechanism for addressing inequality, poverty and to improve health and wellbeing. Without the benefits of both formal and informal education, we cannot achieve our goals of improving the health and wellbeing of the Scottish population and reducing health inequalities. We will continue to work alongside our partners to return our children and young people to formal and informal education as quickly and safely as possible."
Remember FACTS for a safer Scotland
- F – Face coverings
- A – Avoid crowded places
- C – Clean your hands regularly
- T – Two metre distance
- S – Self isolate and book a test if you have symptoms