EDUCATION chiefs have revealed that 300 pupils in East Lothian’s schools have had to self-isolate since classes resumed last month.

But they said that that number was lower than other parts of the country.

Dr Lynne Binnie, East Lothian Council’s principal educational psychologist, told a meeting of the local authority’s education committee that social distancing and cleaning measures in schools has kept the number of pupils out of school for Covid reasons “relatively low”.

And she said that the council’s safeguarding policy and approach to returning youngsters to school had been praised by the NHS Health Protection Teams set up to scrutinise schools.

She said: “We are seeing a relatively small number of children having to self-isolate, in term two it is 300 pupils.

“We feel the risk management we have in place is keeping the number low.”

The 300-pupils figure represents less than two per cent of the county’s school roll, which stood at 16,144 in September – half the national average of pupils absent from classes for Covid reasons.

And school attendance overall remains high at 94.5 per cent, compared to 89 per cent nationally.

Lesley Brown, head of education and children’s wellbeing, told the virtual meeting of the committee that strict social distancing and class bubbles had avoided whole classes having to be sent home if a child tested positive.

She said: “If a Covid case is identified as positive, the contact tracing is done.

“We have to look at who has been within two metres of contact; that tends to mean, with our social distancing measures, a small number of children and staff have to self-isolate.”

Councillor Willie Innes, council leader, gave credit to everyone involved, from headteachers to education officers, teachers and cleaning teams.

He said: “I think sometimes the unsung heroes are the cleaning staff. We do not always give them the praise they deserve. I think we have to recognise the incredible work they do.”

In the past week, positive cases of coronavirus have been recorded at Athelstaneford, Dirleton, Dunbar and Stoneyhill Primary Schools, Musselburgh Grammar School and Ross High School in Tranent.