Nearly a quarter of a million pupils off school before half-term due to Covid

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Figures show that the number of children out of school for reasons related to Covid-19 in England rose to nearly a quarter of a million in the week prior to the half-term.

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The Department of Education (DfE) estimates that 3.2% of all pupils – about 248,000 children – were not in class for coronavirus-related reasons on October 21.

This was up from about 209,000 children, or 2.6% of all pupils, on October 14.

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Regional data shows student absenteeism linked to Covid-19 was highest in southwest England at 5% on October 21, compared to 1.6% in London.

(PA graphics) / PA . graphics

Government figures show that among students absent due to Covid-19 on October 21, the main reason for the absence was a confirmed case of coronavirus.

Nearly 127,000 schoolchildren in England have left for this reason, up from about 111,000 the week before, and about 87,000 were in suspected condition, up from about 81,000 on October 14.

About 15,000 were absent from attendance due to isolation for other reasons, up from about 11,000 on October 14.

An additional 12,000 schoolchildren have been turned away due to attendance restrictions put in place to manage the outbreak, up from about 5,000 schoolchildren, according to government figures.

Jeff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “These statistics show a further increase in both student and staff absenteeism as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is causing chaos in many schools because they have to juggle online learning with in-person learning of different groups of students at different times with fewer staff. It is an impossible situation.

“Hopefully, the half-term break has helped reduce transmission of the virus and reduce disruption, but even if this is the case, it is likely only temporary.”

The overall attendance rate of pupils decreased from 90% on October 14 to 88.2% on October 21.

ASCL calls on the government to do more to launch a vaccination program for children aged 12 to 15 and to encourage home testing among eligible students.


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