Enhanced surveillance for education

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Public Health Scotland (PHS) are using information from a range of sources to improve our understanding of who COVID-19 is affecting people in educational settings, including children and young people, as well as the education workforce. Details of the programmes which contribute to this are provided here.

COVID-19 Antibody Survey of education Staff (CASS)

CASS aims to find out the proportion of people working in education in Scotland who have had the new coronavirus, by testing for antibodies in their blood. This type of test looks at whether someone has been infected in the past. By testing people through the school year, we will be able to track if this is changing over time.

Any member of staff working in an educational setting can register their interest in participating. To do so they will require internet access to complete the PHS online survey. Staff who are selected to join the survey will be sent a home testing kit, which requires them to take a small finger-prick blood sample, which is returned by post to the laboratory for testing. The results are returned to staff, and are analysed by us to improve our understanding of COVID-19 in this group.

The survey will launch in late September, and eligible staff will be receiving information through their schools and professional networks.

Record linkage to estimate COVID-19 risk in teachers

Record linkage involves combining information from different sources to generate new knowledge. In this surveillance programme we are seeking to combine information on the teaching workforce, with information on COVID-19 cases and the effects of COVID-19 on health. We are working with the General Teaching Council Scotland and Scottish Government to establish the feasibility of this work.

The organisations which combined to form PHS have more than 30 years of expertise in performing record-linkage studies to monitor the health of the Scottish population. Recently, we used this expertise to link the Scotland-wide NHS human resources database to a range of health-related databases – for example, databases on hospital admissions and testing for SARS-CoV2 – in order to examine the risk of COVID-19 in NHS healthcare workers

Using the approach for teachers will allow us to assess the risk of COVID-19, and of hospitalisation, admission to intensive care, and death due to COVID-19 among teachers, compared to the general population. We plan to look back at what the comparative level of risk was in March 2020, and also to assess this through the academic year 2020 to 2021.

Data on cases of COVID-19 among children of educational age

To support monitoring of the impact of COVID-19 on children, we are now reporting data on cases and testing for three child age groups:

  • 2 to 4 years (early years age group)
  • 5 to 11 years (primary age group)
  • 12 to 17 years (secondary age group).

These are published each week in the COVID-19 statistical report.

Contact

If you have specific questions about the enhanced surveillance of COVID-19 in education, please email the team at phs.covid-19@nhs.net