The COVID-19 Antibody Survey in education Staff (CASS), launching today, will help identify the proportion of people working in an education setting in Scotland who have had coronavirus by testing for antibodies in their blood.
COVID-19 has had a huge impact on life in Scotland and understanding how many people have had the virus, particularly those working in an education setting doing a variety of roles, and how this changes over time will inform the measures taken to limit risk and strengthen the ongoing pandemic response.
Following the return to school, protecting the health of all staff working in and around schools is crucial to ensure their safety and wellbeing as well as minimising the disruption of children’s education – a vital component to their own health and wellbeing.
This survey will use home testing kits provided through the UK Government antibody testing programme, which commenced in September 2020. The timing of this study allows for monitoring and the ability to track changes over the school year while staff are in their normal work environment. As the test looks at past infection, it will identify whether those tested are likely to have had the virus in the school year to date.
From the test, we aim to learn whether someone has been infected in the past, and understand how this relates to their occupation, and the setting in which they work. All of which will be important to inform future decision-making for the protection of Scotland’s education staff, and pupils as a result.
The tests, however, will not influence the activities of individuals who take part. This is because an antibody test provides information about whether someone is likely to have had the coronavirus before, but it does not provide information about an individual’s immunity, or whether they can or cannot spread the virus to other people.
Dr Diane Stockton, COVID-19 Social and System Recovery Lead said:
“Scotland’s education staff are working tirelessly to ensure the health and safety of children so they can continue their education in the traditional school setting, spend time with their peers and get back to something more like normal. We recognise the impact the return to school has had on staff and the CASS study is intended to provide a more detailed look at this particular work setting and provide important surveillance for staff in the long-term.
"Any adult working in a school or Early Learning & Childcare setting in Scotland is eligible to sign up for the CASS study. What we learn from participants’ test results will support and strengthen Scotland’s response to COVID-19 and ensure school settings are as safe as they possibly can be for all."
Cllr Gail Macgregor, COSLA Spokesperson for Resources said:
“The Scottish Local Government workforce has and continues to play a vital role the response to COVID-19. Ensuring essential services can continue to be delivered safely is a critical part of supporting the health and wellbeing of everyone in our communities. The return to school has been a vital step in not only ensuring the education of children and young people is maintained, but also in strengthening their mental health and wellbeing.
Doing so has been a whole workforce effort and it is therefore key that all employees who work in and around schools are encouraged to take part in the CASS survey. Whether you are a teacher, a pupil support assistant, a cleaner, janitor, caterer or any other of the many roles that keep our schools running, we need you to take part. Doing so will help ensure we know as much as possible about COVID-19 and that we can continue to protect you and everyone in our communities.”
The CASS study is part of a larger programme of enhanced surveillance in schools. People working in education and Early Learning Centres can expect to see communications from their employers and places of work with further information about participating in this study over the coming weeks.
Find out more about enhanced surveillance in education.