SCHOOLS in Scotland should be provided with Covid home testing kits so that youngsters from “chaotic backgrounds” do not struggle to access testing.

Jamie Greene, the Scottish Conservatives education spokesman, said the move would protect the most vulnerable pupils.

Figures have shown that people from the most deprived postcodes in Scotland were more than twice as likely to die from Covid than those from the wealthiest areas.

In England, the Department of Health issued guidance on Wednesday that all schools should be given an initial supply of 10 home test kits ahead of the new term starting, adding that they “should only be offered if you believe an individual may be unable to access testing elsewhere”.

READ MORE: Why surge in demand for Covid testing was predictable after schools reopened 

Mr Greene said: “It’s vital that we protect teachers, staff and pupils from Covid as much as possible.

“But nearly two-thirds of staff do not feel safe at their work and I know from speaking to parents that many pupils feel the same. Nobody should feel unsafe in school or at work.

“There are thousands of vulnerable children across Scotland and many pupils who come from chaotic backgrounds that may struggle to get access to Covid testing.

“We have seen that people from poorer backgrounds were hit hardest throughout this pandemic. We must take steps to stop that happening again.

“The SNP Government should issue testing kits to schools so that teachers can step in and help if they think it’s necessary.

“The prevalence of cases in schools is rising and we must make sure the most vulnerable are protected just as much as everyone else.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said children who need help to access a test were already supported by local health protection teams, but said this would be kept "under review".

He added: “Our advice remains that any pupil with symptoms should stay at home and that a test should be organised from home to avoid any risk of the virus being transmitted.”

It comes after Nicola Sturgeon revealed that the number of children under 17 being tested for Covid in Scotland has soared eight-fold since the middle of July.

The First Minister said nearly 17,500 children aged two to 17 were tested for the virus last week, but stressed that only 49 - 0.3 per cent - had a positive result.

The First Minister said this should be “reassuring to parents and teachers” worried about the impact of schools on the spread of coronavirus.

READ MORE: Scotland set to roll out new 12-minute Covid test kits 

It came as the number of cases identified as part of the Kingspark School cluster in Dundee rose to 36, including 22 cases among staff and three in pupils from the same class.

The additional support needs school for children aged five to 18 was closed for deep-cleaning last

week as a result of the outbreak, with staff and pupils told to self-isolate as a precaution for 14 days.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I know and I can well understand why many parents and teachers, and young people themselves, have concerns about the return to school, and yes, we’ve had clusters of cases in some communities involving young people. But I think these figures reveal the bigger picture.”

Ms Sturgeon added that despite a 300% increase in testing among this age group between the week ending August 16 and August 23, only two more cases were detected last week than the week prior.

Scottish Government figures also show that in the week to August 23, a total of 46,091 people in Scotland were newly tested for Covid-19 - with 479 cases detected.

That suggests that children under 17 accounted for 38% of those tested, but only 10% of positive cases.

READ MORE: Mystery bidder 'corrected' flaw that delayed new Edinburgh Sick Kids' hospital - but lost out to Multiplex 

Ms Sturgeon stressed that parents should not automatically seek a Covid test for cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose.

She said: “While it’s understandable that parents in particular want to err on the side of caution, it’s also important to remember the symptoms of Covid that trigger the need for a test: a new persistent cough, a fever, a loss or change in sense of taste or smell.

“Other symptoms like a runny nose - if they are not accompanied by one of the Covid symptoms - should not lead to a test.”

The surge in demand for testing through community sites such as drive-thru centres led to some people being told their nearest available booking slot was in England.

Ms Sturgeon said “technical issues” with the booking system had also been to blame and were being resolved.

Overall, more than 100,000 Covid tests per week are currently being carried out in Scotland across NHS and community sites, up from around 65,000 in mid-July.

However, three additional mobile testing units are being deployed this week to increase capacity by 1200 to 1500 per day.

NHS Scotland has also ordered thousands of new Covid testing kits capable of providing results within 12 minutes.