JUST over 0.2% of pupils tested positive for coronavirus in the first nine weeks of the school term restarting in Scotland, a study has found.

Nicola Sturgeon said the findings reinforced her view the benefits of reopening schools outweigh the risks of increasing transmission rates.

Public Health Scotland found 1,621 positive cases were linked to schoolchildren, with 1,021 of those in secondary schools.

READ MORE: Coronavirus Scotland: Covid-19 school absences in Glasgow hit record high

More than three-quarters of schools did not have any recorded cases during the time period, it said.

The findings come on the day we revealed more than 5000 schoolkids in Glasgow were marked as absent for Covid-19 related reasons in the most recent figures. 

Discussing the report at the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh on Wednesday, the First Minister said cases in schools tended to reflect rates of transmission in the wider community.

She said: "While we will continue to listen carefully to all concerns, these findings do reinforce our view that at this time, the benefits young people gain from being in school outweigh the overall impact of schools on transmission rates."

On Wednesday, the NASUWT teaching union said smaller class sizes and blended learning should be considered for the areas going into Level 4 restrictions.

Ms Sturgeon said she did not "dismiss" the concerns of teaching unions but added: "Out of 700,000 school pupils, 1,600 cases were positive.

"That's not no cases, and I'm not saying there's zero risk of transmission, but it puts it into some kind of context and perspective."

The First Minister said there is a responsibility on councils to make sure children receive "the educational provision they need" if they have to self-isolate.

She added the use of lateral flow coronavirus tests, which provide results much faster than existing PCR tests, is being considered for use in schools.

Glasgow Times: John Swinney John Swinney

This will depend on medical regulators approving lateral flow tests for use without medical supervision, she said.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Lateral flow testing could well open up the prospect of routine, regular testing for teachers and others who work in schools."

Earlier, Education Secretary John Swinney said schools are "not a significant area of transmission" in response to the requests from teaching unions.

READ MORE: Coronavirus Scotland: The number of pupils missing school in Glasgow

He told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "All the evidence points to the fact that schools are not contributing significantly to the spread of the virus.

"We have isolated cases in schools which are essentially a product of community transmission, which is then taking those infections into individual schools."

He said having schools open is "absolutely central to the wellbeing of children and young people within our country".