Huge surge in number of pupils sent home due to Covid

Jul 6, 2021 by

More than 640,000 pupils in England were not in school last week due to Covid – up from 375,000 the week before.

Covid-related pupil absence in England has hit a new high since all students returned to school in March, this year.

Over 640,000 pupils in England were not in school due to Covid last week – up from 375,000 the week before.

Of these, just 62,000 were confirmed or suspected Covid cases.

The statistics come as the Education Secretary is due to announce plans to replace the need for entire school “bubbles” to isolate after a positive Covid contact with enhanced testing.

The Department for Education figures show the highest number of Covid-related absences since the return to school in March, with 8.5% of children out of school on 1 July, up from 5.1% on 24 June.

The data shows:

  • 561,000 children self-isolating due to a possible contact with a Covid-19 case
  • 34,000 pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus
  • and 28,000 with a confirmed case of Covid-19
  • a further 18,200 pupils are out of school due to their school being closed.

This takes the total number of children not in school in England to 641,200.

In primary schools, Covid-related absence was 7.4% on 1 July, up from 4.5% on the previous week.

While in secondary schools – where the data is adjusted for the fact that Year 11s and Year 13s have now finished school – Covid-related absence was 10.4%, up from 6.2% on 24 June.

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A parent’s concerns: ‘He’s missed a term’s worth’

George Hebdith’s 13-year-old son Zack has missed just over six weeks in school since September 2020, because he has been sent home to isolate.

“Zack has never tested positive for a case in the three instances where he has been isolating so I would argue, on his behalf, he’s been sent home unnecessarily,” says Mr Hebdith, from north-east London.

This has had a negative impact on his education, his well-being and his relationships with his friends, he adds.

Although Zack isn’t taking public exams this year, his father worries about the long-term impact of missing so much school.

“He’s in Year 8, it’s probably not one of the more important years, but who is going to remember this when he does his GCSEs in a couple of years’ time.

“He’s missed a whole term’s worth of learning. How is that to be caught back up? How is that going to impact him in the future?

“If the way it’s done for the next academic year is the same, then what’s to stop it happening again, then this is going to snowball.”

Mr Hebditch says the emphasis needs to change in September from sending them home “just in case” to “keep children in school”.

“Rather than being like it is now which seems to be to isolate for the protection of the wider community.”

He says children should only be sent home if they have symptoms or test positive for Covid.

Source: Huge surge in number of pupils sent home due to Covid – BBC News

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