ALMOST 80% of Scots parents are confident schools can manage Covid infection control safely, according to a study.

Research carried out by Public Health Scotland involving thousands of families also found that a third of parents and carers of children aged 2 to 7 had wanted to access a health visitor or family nurse during lockdown but couldn’t and 13% would have liked to see a GP in person rather than a telephone or online appointment.

Overall, 77% of families (8,470) agreed or strongly agreed that they were confident that schools would do what is needed to reduce the risk of infection. while the same percentage said their child was looking forward to returning.

In response, the EIS said it was encouraging that families were reassured about classroom safety but said that the findings might not necessarily be echoed by staff.

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The teaching union has welcomed the staggered approach to pupils returning to Scottish schools, which got underway this week for children in P1 to P3. It is continuing to lobby for additional safeguards including C02 monitors in classrooms and staff to be higher up in the vaccine chain.

The report - ‘How did Covid affect children in Scotland?’ -  which has just been published also found that four in ten parents were concerned that their child might contract the virus and a higher number (50%) were worried they might pass it on to someone else.

Public Health Scotland surveyed more than 11,000 parents and carers of 2–7-year-olds in Scotland  after the first national lockdown, between June 22 June and July 6 last year.

The study also looked at the impact of the pandemic on employment and income and parents’ thoughts about the re-opening of schools. It acknowledged that lower-income families were under-represented in the research.

For 25% of the children, the employment status of the main earner in their household had been affected by the lockdown with 44%  of parents experiencing a reduction in income, while more than half saw no impact.

The parents and carers of 81% of pupils were planning to send their child back to school or nursery when they re-opened and this was slightly higher for older children.

For 2% of children, their parents and carers were planning to keep them at home and continue with home learning after schools and nurseries reopened.

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For those planning to keep their child at home, 60% of parents and carers were concerned about their child becoming ill with coronavirus.  

The next most frequent concern was that physical distancing measures within schools would be stressful for their child (54%), closely followed by a feeling that their child was enjoying learning at home (51%).

Susan Quinn, EIS Glasgow Local Secretary, said: “It’s reassuring that parents feel that their schools are doing everything they possibly can do but they are not necessarily in the school buildings. 

“I think teachers feel as if headteachers have done as much as they can possibly do but our own survey have told us that they still felt unsafe because very often they were unable to physically distance from each other and pupils.

“They were being told then and to some extent still now that they didn’t need to physically distance from pupils when quite clearly the evidence is that young people did catch and transmit the virus and they have been vidicated to some extent.

“We are happy the government has taken the phased approach. The fact is that these (secondary pupils) are young adults and are catching and experiencing the virus in the same way as you and I. 

“We will see what happens around the return of P1 to P3. The thing that would concern us is that just now there are schools which are at half capacity so there is more space to breathe and move.

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"If you return them all, that space goes and the mitigations become harder to implement.

“Our members do feel they should be considered for vaccination. Discussions are ongoing around the ventilation in schools and trying to persuade local authorities to introduce CO2 monitors in classrooms. 

“If the C02 levels are higher it might mean you aren’t getting a good air flow.

“Some of this is about reassuring people.”

The study also found that children from less affluent families were less likely to access parks and green spaces during lockdown.