Back to school chaos: Hundreds of thousands absent from school due to COVID

It's only been a few weeks since students have returned to schools, but the virus is already keeping more than 100,000 from attending.

Figures revealed by the Department for Education have confirmed that the virus has already started creating chaos in schools all across the country, as 122,000 students were absent in the last week alone.

Back to school

Statistics, reported by The Guardian, has shown that 59,000 students were out of school because they had been infected, and 45,000 were suspected cases. A further 16,000 were absent because they were self-isolating, and another 2,000 because restrictions were being imposed in the respective schools to ‘manage an outbreak.’

Educational authorities are urging the government to provide more support to institutions so that they can keep COVID under control. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders said:

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.
It should launch a public information campaign to encourage twice-weekly home testing among pupils in the appropriate age groups, provide funding for high-quality ventilation systems in schools and colleges, and commit to providing more support if onsite testing is directed under the contingency framework.

According to their report, published in GOV.UK, an estimated 1% of all teachers and school leaders, and 1% of all teaching assistants and school staff were also absent because of COVID-related reasons.

Improvement from last year

While some educational leaders are concerned about the number of children skipping out on school, other officials have been applauding the improvement of the figures from last year.

At the same time period in 2020, 87% of students were present in class, whereas this year that number climbed up to more than 91%. They’re hoping that with the vaccination programme now targeting 12 to 15-year-olds, the situation will only become better. Education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi said:

That’s down to the hard work of teachers, support staff as well as families, whose efforts have been heroic in making sure children can get back to school safely.
The rollout of the vaccine to those aged 12-15, which started this week, is another significant step in building the walls of protection from the virus across society.
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