More than a MILLION pupils were forced to miss their lessons last week due to Covid rules
More than a million pupils were absent from class for Covid-related reasons last week – a record since schools fully re-opened in March, figures revealed yesterday.
A total of 1.05million were out of school because of the virus on July 15 when a snapshot of absences was taken.
It marked a 25 per cent increase on the 839,700 the previous week and meant 14.3 per cent – one in seven – of all pupils were absent due to the pandemic. That was up from 11.2 per cent the week before. The vast majority of the latest cases – 934,000 – were children isolating due to possible contact with someone testing positive for the virus.
Only 47,200 pupils had a confirmed case of Covid – up from 39,000 the week before – and 34,500 had a suspected case.
The Department for Education figures also showed a further 34,800 pupils were off as a result of school closures due to Covid.
More than a million pupils were absent from class for Covid-related reasons last week – a record since schools fully re-opened in March, figures revealed yesterday
Teaching unions said the rising number of cases heralded chaos when schools return in September. Geoff Barton, of the secondary head teachers’ union ASCL, said: ‘These figures bring a year of unprecedented educational disruption to a grim end.
‘We simply cannot have this level of disruption to education during the next academic year.’
He insisted schools need more money to arrange extra precautions against the virus in the autumn term, including ‘on-site asymptomatic testing for students, high-quality air ventilation systems and robust outbreak management plans’.
He stressed: ‘This work cannot be done on the cheap.’
Kevin Courtney, of the National Education Union, said the disarray is set to continue even without the ‘bubble’ system schools have used so far.
He warned: ‘Even if children who are contacts are not sent to isolation, children who are positive still will be sent home and some of them will go on to suffer effects of long Covid.’
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced the compulsory use of bubbles will come to an end.
Current rules say children have to isolate for ten days if another pupil in their bubble tests positive, meaning whole year groups can be sent home.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced the compulsory use of bubbles will come to an end. Current rules say children have to isolate for ten days if another pupil in their bubble tests positive, meaning whole year groups can be sent home
However, in future it will be up to individual schools. From August 16, children in England will only need to isolate if they have tested positive for Covid.
A DfE spokesman said: ‘Our priority is for schools and colleges to deliver face-to-face, high-quality education to all pupils as we know that being out of education causes significant harm to educational attainment, life chances, mental and physical health.
‘Schools now no longer need to operate a bubble system, and from August 16 pupils will not need to self-isolate should they come into contact with a positive case in line with the position for wider society.
‘Where children have needed to isolate, they must be offered immediate access to high-quality remote education.’
Nearly two in five nurseries were forced to close fully or partially in the spring due to the pandemic, a survey found.
The poll of 344 nurseries by the Education Policy Institute and National Day Nurseries Association showed 12 per cent shut fully while 25 per cent had to close partially at least once.