Thousands of Tayside and Fife pupils are continuing to miss school each day as a result of coronavirus, according to official data.
More than 3,300 children were absent from school on Tuesday alone in Angus, Dundee, Fife and Perth and Kinross.
The figure is a slight reduction from the previous week despite hundreds of school pupils isolating due to positive cases.
Outbreaks have emerged at Auchmuty High School in Glenrothes where around a third of all students are isolating after 16 people linked with the school tested positive.
Cases have also been confirmed at Perth High School and both Harris Academy and Grove Academy in Dundee.
The data, provided by the Scottish Government, shows pandemic related absences are mostly for isolation but also takes into account illness and parents refusing to send their children to school.
It comes as Education Secretary John Swinney defended the move to keep schools open despite intense pressures from teaching unions amid rising cases.
Absences in Tayside and Fife
A total of 3,352 pupils were absent for Covid-19 related reasons in the four local authority areas covered by NHS Tayside and Fife on November 17.
There were more absences in Fife, with 1,415 children off school in a single day.
In Dundee, 644 pupils missed school while 600 were off in Perth and Kinross.
Angus recorded a surge in pupil absences in comparison to the previous week as 693 pupils missed school compared to 570 on November 10.
In each area the postcode areas with the highest number of absences were:
- Fife – KY11 (294) and KY2 (271).
- Dundee City – DD2 (223) and DD4 (222).
- Angus – DD10 (307) and DD11 (202).
- Perth and Kinross – PH2 (248).
In a debate on school safety, Mr Swinney said: “There is no direct evidence that transmission within schools plays a significant contributory role in rates of infection amongst children and time out of school has a detrimental effect, particularly for vulnerable children.
“The evidence weighs clearly in favour of children attending school whenever it is safe to do so.”
What does the evidence say?
The number of number of positive cases among pupils represents 0.1% of all pupils, according to new evidence from the Scottish Government’s advisory sub-group on education,
Experts have said there is “no current direct evidence” that transmission within schools plays a significant role in driving increased rates of infection among children, however, it also notes there is also little evidence to suggest otherwise.
It is also difficult to separate the risk from infection as a result of behaviour outside school and from in-school contacts, according to the paper.
Pre-school children and primary school pupils are less susceptible to infection than adults, although evidence is more mixed for secondary aged youngsters.