Covid Scotland: Children from deprived areas twice as likely to have been off school for self-isolation

Children who live in the most deprived areas of Scotland were almost twice as likely to have missed a week or more of in-person schooling due to Covid-related self-isolation in the past school year, figures have revealed.
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And those in more deprived areas were 2.5 times as likely to have missed two weeks or more.

It comes as the majority of schools across Scotland prepare to re-open for the autumn term next week.

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Several Covid infection prevention measures will stay the same as last year, but the self-isolation system has changed.

Picture: John DevlinPicture: John Devlin
Picture: John Devlin

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said she was “acutely conscious” of the need to minimise disruption for children, and that under the new guidance fewer children will need to self-isolate.

From Monday, children under 18 will no longer need to self-isolate after contact with a positive Covid case, so long as they produce a negative PCR test.

Figures published by the Scottish Government reveal that half of school children living in the most deprived areas of Scotland were not in school because of self-isolation for at least half a day in the past academic year, compared to 39 per cent of those from the least deprived areas.

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The figures are based only on the periods when schools were open.

Some 29 per cent of those in the most deprived areas missed at least one week of in-person schooling, compared to 17 per cent of those in the least deprived areas.

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Ten per cent of more deprived children missed two weeks or more, compared to just 4 per cent for children from wealthier areas.

Ms Somerville said: “We have been acutely conscious of the need to reduce educational disruption for our children and young people, while maintaining a safe and supportive school environment for staff, children and young people.

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"When schools returned on a phased basis at the start of this year, we ensured that vulnerable children were among the first to be able to return to in-person learning as soon as it was safe to do so.

“The recently revised approach to self-isolation policy for under-18 close contacts means that fewer young people will have to self-isolate and most will be asked to self-isolate for a much shorter period of time.”

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