Almost a third of teachers in Scotland do not think their classrooms have adequate ventilation to combat the risk of Covid, according to a major new survey.

Only 6% of the 16,000 teachers (960) who responded said they wanted to see pupil face coverings removed in secondary schools, with 55% in favour of them being retained through the winter.

The survey was carried out by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), which said teachers remain concerned about the spread of the virus in schools with a minority (47%) saying they feel "very safe".

Teachers repeatedly raised the issue of balancing the necessary ventilation requirements with a comfortable working environment, especially as the weather continues to turn colder.

One said: "Schools are far too cold to work in. How is sitting eating your lunch in a freezing cold hall in your jacket good for staff morale and mental health.

"The children are also freezing which is affecting the learning taking place.”

Some primary teachers said they believed there should be greater use of face masks amongst older pupils while one employee said 50% of young people were not using them correctly and had to be reminded to keep them over their noses.

The government said in response to the survey that it was keeping school safety guidance "under review".

It comes after Deputy First Minister John Swinney warned that cases of the Omicron variant are "galloping through Scotland."

READ MORE: Plea to shut Scottish schools early ahead of festive break 

The Scottish Government estimates that Omicron cases will double every two to three days and are likely to add up to more than half of all cases by next week.

More than 4,000 new coronavirus cases have been recorded in the past 24 hours in Scotland.

According to the latest Scottish Government figures, 4,002 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed since Friday.

Among those positive tests, 38 new cases of the Omicron variant have been identified, taking the total in Scotland to 159.

Primary schools in Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire have already been forced to close after suspected outbreaks of the coronavirus variant.

The EIS report is based on the views of thousands of teachers across Scotland who responded to an online survey in November. Just under a third of all members completed it.

HeraldScotland:

It found the majority (55%) want to see face coverings retained throughout winter while 30% did not believe schools were safely ventilated.

Staff working in nurseries were most likely to say they felt workspaces were well ventilated with secondary teachers most concerned about safety.

The vast majority of schools and nurseries had used CO2 monitors or other measures to check ventilation.

Around two-thirds of teachers (67%) said that regular Covid risk-assessments have been carried out by councils while 23% don’t know if they have taken place.

READ MORE: Swinney warns Omicron coronavirus "galloping through Scotland"

Those in the primary education sector were more likely to report that their school or employer had checked the ventilation of their working spaces (66%) than their secondary (61%), nursery (52%) or special education (63%) 
counterparts.

HeraldScotland:

A minority (32%) were confident that their school has a procedure in place to raise concerns about inadequate ventilation.

The union has asked the Scottish Government to consider closing schools early ahead of the festive break amid concern that absences caused by the Omicron variant will lead to staff shortages.

Many schools break up for Christmas and New Year next week.

The Scottish Government is due to provide an update on any possible additional restrictions this week but Deputy First Minister John Swinney said yesterday that schools would be the "last thing to close".

Larry Flanagan, EIS General Secretary, said: “It is clear from this major survey that Scotland’s teachers remain concerned about many aspects of Covid safety within schools.

"The emergence of new variants such as Omicron, coupled with the higher risk of illness during the Winter months, will only increase the risk of Covid infection spreading through school communities. 

"Case numbers remain high, and we have recently seen at least one school being compelled to close its building and move to online learning as a consequence of high rates of Covid illness.

"Teachers continue to work flat-out, in the face of the continuing Covid pandemic, to ensure a quality learning experience for young people. 

He added: "It is clear, however, that the threat of Covid has not gone away and, also, that teachers remain concerned about the potential risk to pupils, staff and their families. Councils, and the Scottish Government, must listen to and act upon the concerns expressed by teachers.”