New UK government data has shown that a record number of kids were reported absent from school in England last week due to coronavirus-related issues since the return of face-to-face teaching in March.
Data released by the Department of Education on Tuesday revealed that approximately one in 20 pupils were absent from school in England on June 24 due to Covid-related issues, totalling 375,000 students.
In primary schools, pupil absences linked to Covid averaged 4.5%. Secondary school kids from years 11-13 (16-18 year olds) scored the greatest percentage of absences, with an average rate of 6.2%.
However, almost three-quarters of absent students (279,000) missed class because they needed to self-isolate after someone in their school reported a Covid infection, rather than being infected themselves, the department said.
Across state-funded primary, secondary and special schools, the proportion of pupils with a confirmed case of Covid was low at 0.2%.
On Tuesday, Schools Minister Nick Gibb announced that he and his cabinet colleagues will decide next month whether to remove the requirement for students to self-isolate if someone in their class tests positive for Covid-19.
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However, high absentee rates were not only reported among pupils. The Department of Education also stated that 2.5% of teachers in state-funded schools were absent on June 24.
Certain regions of the UK have fared worse than others in relation to school-attendance issues in recent months. On Monday, the Daily Post reported that coronavirus cases in schools in north Wales have skyrocketed to overtake December’s infection rates during the UK’s second Covid-19 wave. On the same day, in the north east of England in Durham, 400 school children were reported to be isolating due to a Covid-19 outbreak, according to local reports.
Schools in England were ordered to close after the coronavirus threat level was raised to ‘Level 5’ by the government in early January, and did not reopen until March 8. Scotland and Wales took a different approach, phasing in young primary school pupils on February 22, followed by primary and secondary level kids on March 15.
While many children in Europe and worldwide are being included in mass Covid-19 vaccination efforts, the UK has remained reluctant to inoculate children between the ages of 12-17 and is waiting for more data before reaching a final decision.
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