NEW concerns have been raised about whether Scotland's schools are Covid-secure environments as a new survey found that 92% raised social distancing issues.

The survey conducted by the country’s largest teaching union EIS, received responses from almost 600 school reps across the country and closed on Monday.

The biggest concern surrounds having no reductions in class sizes to enable physical distancing, with 92% reporting the problem.

And nearly one in three say physical distancing was not in place in their school.

It comes as more than 100 children in Scotland have tested positive for Covid-19 since schools restarted.

From Monday, pupils and staff have to wear face coverings in communal areas when moving about within Scotland's secondary schools.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Can your child's school order them to take a Covid test?

The new rules also apply on school transport for all secondary pupils and primary pupils aged over five.

Scotland's education secretary John Swinney when announcing the new guidance acknowledged that some pupils have found it very difficult to physically distance when moving around school, which could increase the risk of transmission of the virus.

The Herald: Education Secretary John Swinney

But he has rejected the idea that pupils should be sent home if they fail to wear a face covering.

A separate survey of over 2000 found that over a third of Scottish secondary teachers do not feel safe in school and lack confidence in the protections that have been put in place.

The survey, conducted by the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) after staff and pupils returned to school full-time last month, found that just seven per cent of teachers are “very confident” they can keep safe, with 38 per cent not confident at all.

The EIS study found that some 31% reported that face coverings were not being worn where physical distancing was not possible and nearly half of secondary school reps reported no change to timetables or class groups to support physical distancing measures.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The results of our survey of school Reps make for worrying reading. While local authorities have taken numerous steps to make schools safer, there is still much to be done to ensure that all schools are as COVID-safe as they can possibly be.

The Herald: Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, appears before Holyrood's education committee

"It is clear from the results of our survey that class groups are still too large to facilitate effective physical distancing measures, potentially placing staff and pupils alike at greater risk of COVID infection. While this is an issue in all schools, it is a particularly acute concern in the secondary sector where older pupils are at a greater risk of developing symptoms and of spreading the virus."

Seamus Searson, SSTA general secretary added: "The majority of secondary teachers still do not feel safe in school and lack confidence in their employers to keep them safe since the reopening of schools.

"The lack of physical distancing in classrooms and around the school is a major worry."

He said there was also a major concern over the lack of a detailed pupil discipline policy that includes actions for pupils who refuse to adhere to physical distancing and safety measures such as hand hygiene with only just over one in five members indicating such a policy was introduced in their school.

The Herald on Sunday revealed that less than half of Scotland's councils could confirm that they could cmply with a safety demand from teachers that behaviour policies for schools should contain an ability to exclude pupils that refuse to obey coronavirus rules on their return to school.

“It appears that schools are being exempt from all the normal Covid-19 safety arrangements, such as physical distancing, consistent and safe cleaning regimes, and restrictions on sharing equipment that take place in other public places," added Mr Searson. "As one member remarked, ‘Teachers are just being thrown under the bus’. Either we are serious about keeping people safe or we are not”."

The latest Scottish Government guidance follows advice from the World Health Organisation that children aged 12 and over should wear face masks.

Mr Flanagan added: “Teachers and pupils have a right to work in a safe and secure environment, so all possible steps must be taken to ensure that our schools are COVID-secure. The most effective means to ensure this is through physical distancing, which will require smaller classes and an increased number of teaching staff. Local authorities and the Scottish Government must act urgently to step up the deployment of the additional teaching staff required to ensure that all schools can operate safely in the weeks and months ahead.”

The SSTA described the lack of physical distancing in schools being reported by members as “a major worry”, with nearly one in three saying that physical distancing measures had not been put in place.

They found that cleaning procedures were “inconsistent” – with just less than half of teachers reporting that their classrooms were being cleaned after every lesson, with some respondents highlighting that their councils were running out of cleaning supplies. Only two per cent said that the number of pupils in their class had been reduced.

Before agreeing to the full-time return of pupils to school, the Scottish government said that there would be measures in place to help prevent the spread of coronavirus including extra handwashing and hand sanitising, social distancing between staff, and enhanced cleaning regimes.

Mr Swinney has revealed 77 pupils aged 12 to 17 and 40 aged five to 11 had been confirmed as having coronavirus.

He said the "predominant explanation" for the 117 cases was pupils catching the virus in the community, not at school.

Meanwhile pupils had tested positive for coronavirus at three more Scots high schools.

Individual Covid cases were confirmed at Currie Community High School in Edinburgh and Queen Anne High School in Dunfermline.

Two pupils also tested positive for the bug at Hermitage Academy in Helensburgh.

NHS Highland confirmed the Helensburgh cases in a letter to parents which say one pupil is in S2 with the other in S4.