Coronavirus: Scotland considers mandatory face masks in high schools as 22 teachers and pupils test positive in outbreak

Scottish government considering recommending face masks in secondary schools

Samuel Osborne
Monday 24 August 2020 20:49 BST
Kingpark School in Dundee was closed last Wednesday for deep cleaning
Kingpark School in Dundee was closed last Wednesday for deep cleaning (Google Maps)

Staff and pupils at a school in Scotland have been told to self-isolate after 22 people tested positive for Covid-19.

Kingpark School in Dundee was closed last Wednesday for deep cleaning.

Some 17 staff, two pupils and three community contacts have tested positive, NHS Tayside said.

It comes as the Scottish government announced it was consulting on recommending secondary school pupils and staff wear face coverings when moving around the building.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, said her education secretary, John Swinney, was in the final stages of consulting with teachers and councils on the issue, which she said would not include pupils wearing masks while in the classroom.

Staff at Kingspark School have been told to self-isolate for 14 days from the date they were last in school, while pupils and their households have been told to self-isolate for 14 days beginning on Thursday, 20 August.

Dr Ellie Hothersall, NHS Tayside public health medicine consultant, said: “Since the identification of positive cases at Kingspark, a detailed contact tracing programme has been under way and these linked cases are being identified because of those concerted efforts of Test and Protect.

“We must do everything we can to protect all of our communities against Covid-19 and that is why we have issued the guidance to self-isolate. By taking this action we are containing any further spread of infection.

“We know that this may cause anxiety to some parents and children but we must do everything we can to ensure we keep people safe.”

Paul Clancy, Dundee City Council executive director, said: “I would like to reassure families that this action is being taken to keep everyone safe.

“This is our paramount concern and we cannot be complacent.”

Discussing the Scottish government’s consultation on a measure recommending face masks in school, Ms Sturgeon said: “We’re consulting on this specific measure because, firstly, mixing between different groups is more likely in corridors and communal areas – increasing the potential for transmission.

“Secondly, crowding and close contact in these areas is more likely and voices could be raised, resulting in greater potential for creating aerosol transmission.

“Finally, there’s also less scope for ventilation in these areas.”

She said decisions are yet to be made on whether the guidance would apply to school transport and that decision will be made in the coming days.

Meanwhile, a single positive case was also linked to the primary 2A class at St Peter and Paul’s School in the city, with an additional positive case connected to Happy Times out-of-school club at Downfield Primary School.

Also, a member of staff and two pupils at High Blantyre Primary School have tested positive for Covid-19.

NHS Lanarkshire said adults and children connected to primary three or four had been asked not to attend class.

They will be offered testing on Wednesday and asked to self-isolate until they receive confirmation of a negative result.

All parents and staff of the school have been notified and the school will open as normal on Monday, with the health board saying there is currently no evidence to suggest there is transmission in the school.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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