The number of schools in England reporting that they are not fully open because of confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 quadrupled in just one week. On top of this, according to estimates by the Department for Education (DfE), the number of pupils who were absent also rose by 50%.
A school is considered fully open if they are able to provide face-to-face teaching for all pupils on roll for the whole school day and have not asked any groups of pupils to self-isolate.
According to a report from The Guardian, nine hundred schools were affected during a week in which many parents and headteachers complained that they were unable to access coronavirus tests. This lack of testing available means those showing any symptoms are forced to stay home from school and self-isolate.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “It is clear from the latest statistics that the Government is failing in its duty to reduce the infection rate and to provide pupils and teachers with tests in a timely fashion. This is eroding trust among parents, and it will be an uphill struggle for it to be regained.”
One school leaders’ union said the latest figures should “ring alarm bells” about the “failure of Covid testing”.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Under the circumstances of rising infection rates in the community, and severe problems with the Covid testing system, that is not at all surprising. Frankly, it is a great relief that the situation is not a lot worse.
“Schools are working incredibly hard to manage this very difficult situation, and leaders tell us that there is often little time left in the day for anything other than dealing with symptomatic or positive cases, and navigating the complexities of the public health system.”
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