A package of new measures has been announced today designed to help teachers and pupils return to school safely after almost 5 months of lockdown.

The measures, announced today by Education Secretary, John Swinney, include funding for up to 1400 more teaching staff and an enhanced surveillance programme to give teachers, nursery and school staff priority access to testing. Schools have also been provided with new guidance, informed by the latest scientific advice, which sets out the range of measures they should take to minimise the risk of the spread of the virus.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said,

“The Scottish Government has recognised that this is an anxious time for teachers, pupils and parents, so hopefully these new measures will give them reassurance that everything that can be done is being done to help keep our schools and children safe.

“Coronavirus is still with us so it’s natural that people still have concerns. Hopefully today’s announcements will help alleviate some of their worries. Scotland has had great success at suppressing the virus and levels of community transmission remain low. NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect programme has been effective at identifying outbreaks and responding quickly but we must remain vigilant and report any symptoms as soon as possible.

“Dumfries and Galloway Council, too, have invested a lot of time, money and resources on enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures to ensure that our schools are as safe as they can be, so I hope parents can to send their kids off each morning confident that they’re not at any great risk.

“This should be an exciting time for our young people heading back to school, especially the wee ones starting P1 for the first time or those moving up to secondary school. I’m sure everyone is excited to see their classmates again after a long time apart and I know that many teachers, too, have greatly missed having daily contact with their pupils.

“Teachers deserve our thanks for their hard work and commitment and I know the past few months have been a strain. We must ensure education remains a priority and that we do what we can to support our teachers and parents to achieve the best outcomes for our children during these difficult times. I wish them all the very best for the year ahead.”