Schoolchildren studying in class (representative image). Photograph:( Reuters )
The UK government should be on 'high alert' as over 100,000 children went absent from school last week, due to Covid, said headteachers. On September 16, less than 92% pupils were present in classrooms. Around 59,000 were absent with confirmed cases, while around 45,000 were suspected of having the disease
To curb COVID-19 outbreaks in schools, the UK government should be on 'high alert' as more than 100,000 children went absent from school last week, due to confirmed or suspected infections, said headteachers of the country.
On September 16, less than 92% pupils were present in classrooms, the Department for Education’s figures showed. Around 59,000 were absent with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least 45,000 could not make it to school as they were suspected of having Covid disease.
For Covid, 122,000 kids were absent last week from state schools in total. These included 16,000, who were marked off as isolating and another 2,000 “due to attendance restrictions being in place to manage an outbreak,” said DfE.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary, National Association of Head Teachers, said, “These national figures mask some significant issues arising at a local level, and we already know of schools that are struggling to keep classes open due to outbreaks occurring.”
“It is crucial that both central and local government are now on high alert and are ready to react quickly if and when cases rise rapidly or outbreaks occur. The next few weeks will be crucial,” added Whiteman.
Geoff Barton, general secretary, Association of School and College Leaders, said he was aware of schools where “significant numbers” of students were absent.
“We are hopeful that the vaccination programme for 12- to 15-year-olds will help to reduce this level of disruption. However, the government must also take more action to support schools and colleges,” Barton said.
(With inputs from agencies)