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Coronavirus outbreak at school as 21 staff members and two pupils infected

A school in Scotland has been shut down after an outbreak of coronavirus cases among pupils and staff.

More cases have been confirmed in the cluster surrounding Kingspark School in Dundee on Monday.

NHS Tayside said the number of positive cases had reached 27, up from 22 on Sunday.

Of these, 21 are members of staff, two are pupils and four are from the wider community.

The school, which caters for children aged five to 18 with additional support needs, has been closed since Wednesday evening and pupils have been told to self-isolate for 14 days from last Thursday.

Contact tracing identified a link with two other schools in Dundee, with one child at St Peter and Paul's School testing positive on Sunday and another case identified at the Happy Times out-of-school club at Downfield Primary School on Sunday.

The outbreak at Kingspark School, which has 185 pupils, came after schools reopened in Scotland from August 11.

It comes at the same time as the Scottish Government is consulting on recommending secondary school pupils and staff wear face coverings.

There have been warnings the reopening of schools would lead to an overall rise in the UK's R rate of infection, meaning the country could be teetering near to another lockdown.

To help reassurance frontline workers a trade union is calling on the Scottish Government to introduce Covid-19 testing for school support staff as more clusters of the virus break out.

GMB is calling for ministers to bring forward a testing regime for every school in Scotland.

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A survey from the union found more than two-thirds of support staff in schools and nurseries, such as cleaners, janitors and caterers, do not feel safe in the workplace.

GMB Scotland organiser Helen Meldrum said: "Over a week since the return of Scotland's schools, it's clear that many support staff do not feel safe at their work and an overwhelming majority of them want to be able to access a Covid test at work.

"If support staff need to book a test, they must absorb the financial costs and time implications to do so, and for a chronically low-paid workforce with many employed on multiple contracts across multiple workplaces, that's just not credible.

"The failure over the summer months to listen to the voices of school support staff echoes what we witnessed in care earlier this year, and in this case the political focus has been on teachers and pupils while support staff have been forgotten.

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"You cannot have a safe return to full-time education if a significant chunk of the workforce needed do not feel sufficiently safe, valued or heard by our decision-makers, and that's why we urged the Deputy First Minister to intervene now."

In response the Scottish Government clarified that support staff are entitled to be tested.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Guidance, informed by the latest scientific advice, sets out the range of measures schools should take to minimise the risk of the spread of the virus.

"We know concerns still exist and we want teachers and staff to not just be safe, but to feel safe, in school and in nursery.

"Teachers, nursery and school staff can already access a test for Covid-19 on demand through their employer if they are concerned they have been at risk from infection.

"We have written to every local authority providing information on how staff can access a test."

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