SCHOOLS in Scotland have reassured local authorities that the current ventilation measures in place are "adequate", according to the Education Secretary.

Few major changes to improve ventilation in an effort to combat the spread of Covid-19 in schools have been made with Shirley-Anne Sommerville telling Holyrood's Education Committee that "limited action" was required to increase airflow in classrooms so far.

The Education Secretary said she was not aware of any cases where councils were unable to make improvements because of a lack of money.

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It follows an announcement from Nicola Sturgeon of extra capital funding for “any remedial work that councils need to do to improve airflow and comply with the new guidance”.

The latest Scottish Government guidance recommends teachers rely primarily on opening external doors and windows for fresh air but should “balance requirements for ventilation with internal temperatures and conditions” during the winter.

The National: Scottish Education Secretary Shirley-Anne SommervilleScottish Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Sommerville

Somerville told the committee: “The action that has been taken by local authorities is what local authorities have deemed necessary to deal with the challenges.

“So there’s been a limited action because local authorities have been reassured that what is in place is adequate for what needs to happen and I am not aware of any local authority that has been held back from any action because of a limitation of funds.”

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Scottish Labour’s education spokesman, Michael Marra, reiterated the party’s calls for £30 million to provide two high-efficiency particulate absorbing (Hepa) filters in every classroom.

Somerville insisted the £5m fund announced by the First Minister on Tuesday could be used in any way councils wanted – including air filters “if they were identified as the only appropriate solution for particular spaces”.

“It will help support any remedial action that is required,” Somerville said, while she stressed that scientific guidance indicated natural ventilation should be the priority.

She added: “From the feedback we’re getting from local authorities, a very small amount of remedial action has been required for a small minority of spaces, but what I wanted to ensure is that funding was not a blockage to this.”

During the session, Sommerville reaffirmed her assertion that the Scottish Government is working on the basis that exams will be going ahead this year after being cancelled in the last two years due to the coronavirus crisis.

She was asked by Tory MSP Oliver Mundell if any additional funding was being provided to ensure they could go ahead. He suggested community halls could be hired and additional and more invigilators recruited to ensure social distancing.

The Education Secretary said that the assumption is that exams will happen and that the existing budget covers that.

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She added: "The only reason that exams will not take place is because of public health guidance around the prevention of gatherings.

“So clearly, if that happens, then I think it would be irresponsible for the Government to say exams should take place if there’s public health advice saying gatherings shouldn’t happen.

“What the SQA [Scottish Qualification Authority] is continuing to work on is an insurance that exams can take place safely and they will continue to do that.”

Somerville said there were ongoing discussions about additional revision during the Easter holiday, but added: “The reason why I’ve not made an announcement on that to date is because we need to know what the local authorities will be doing to make sure that what we are doing is in addition to what already happens.”