Stop crowding outside schools, parents are warned

Stop crowding outside schools, parents are warned

The number of parents gathering outside schools has prompted Scotland's national clinical director to warn that they risk undermining "substantial progress" in containing Covid-19 in recent months.

Jason Leitch also raised concerns today about the number of young people meeting each other and families which are putting children into school having returned from abroad, without observing the law on 14 days of self-isolation.

Professor Leitch made his comments at the daily coronavirus briefing,following a number of positive Covid-19 cases involving pupils. In the same session, first minister Nicola Sturgeon was asked about whether face coverings should be mandatory in schools amid concerns over potential bullying of students who chose to wear them.

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Professor Leitch, addressing the public the day before the deadline for a full return of schools throughout Scotland, said: "I must remind you that the law requires everyone returning to Scotland from non exempt countries to self isolate at home for 14 days. This includes children as well as adults."

He added: "These regulations have been put in place to support our continued efforts to suppress the spread of the virus. Scotland's directors of education will be speaking to headteachers and heads of early learning and childcare settings today, to ensure this is made clear to parents, children and young people."

Professor Leitch, addressing the public, said: "We are also concerned about people meeting up outside school settings in larger groups."

He said that this included "parents gathering at school gates" and "young people meeting friends without following the guidance on physical distancing".

Professor Leitch added: "People are running the risk of spreading the virus to each other, their families and their loved ones."

He said that the "substantial progress" made in keeping the pandemic under control required everyone to be mindful of the appropriate behaviour if it is to be maintained.

At the same briefing this lunchtime, first minister Nicola Sturgeon was told about a secondary school student who was refusing to go to school without wearing a face covering because he does not feel safe. However, that had drawn comments from other students, so the student was concerned about potential bullying and said the only way to stop this was to make face coverings mandatory in schools.

Mr Sturgeon said the guidance on face coverings in schools had been "informed by our scientific advisors" but that "we will keep that under review".

She added that the Scottish government guidance "makes clear that if young people or staff in a school want to wear face coverings, they should be supported and empowered to do that".

Meanwhile, the EIS teaching unionhas again demanded "enhanced procedures" to protect pupils and staff from potential Covid-19 infection. 

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "The cases of Covid infection that have been identified in some young people highlight the critical nature of adequate safeguards to protect pupils and staff from potential Covid infection at school.

"Introducing the option for all teachers to access testing was an important step, but other measures such as reducing class sizes to facilitate physical distancing are required as a matter of urgency. In particular, a recommendation for senior phase pupils, who are young adults, to wear face-coverings where physical distancing is not possible is important if schools are to operate safely."