The Association of School and College Leaders said the pandemic had caused massive disruption in England and warned that schools across the country were “not out of the woods yet”.
Education Department figures show that pupils across Sunderland missed the equivalent of a million days of in-person schooling between January and the end of March due to coronavirus reasons – 58.5% of all possible school days.
In the fall semester, 219,395 days were missed for this reason, which means that young people missed 1.3 million school days during the two semesters—roughly 36 per pupil.
The figures include state-funded primary, secondary, and private schools in the region.
Children across England were sent home to self-isolate when cases of coronavirus were detected in the fall.
But for the majority of the spring semester, students – with the exception of children of key workers and vulnerable pupils – have been asked to learn remotely amid the national lockdown.
About 252 million school days nationwide were lost due to Covid-19 during both terms – 29.4%
Jeff Barton, ASCL general secretary, said: “Covid has caused widespread educational disruption across the country, but the impact has not been uniform.
“Even when schools were fully open during the last school year, attendance varied widely depending on local conditions.
“Unfortunately, there is still a very high level of disruption going on that term and we are not out of the woods yet.”
He said the government’s immediate priority should be to end the disorder by increasing vaccination for children aged 12 to 15 and encouraging home testing twice a week.
James Bowen, director of policy at the NAHT School Leaders Association, said: “This data serves as a useful reminder of how much the pandemic is affecting children and young people.
“Schools have worked hard to provide distance learning, but we know this is not a substitute for being in the classroom.”
Schools record general absences—including when authorized and unauthorized—separately, with 3.3% of sessions during the spring term due to absence.
In Sunderland, the absenteeism rate was 3.5%.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said the vaccination program and adherence to public health advice had put schools in a better position than last school year.