Commenting on the Week 28 school attendance figures
published by the Department for Education today, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
“This further large increase in Covid-related pupil absence is more evidence, if it were needed, of the crisis in schools and colleges caused directly by the rules requiring teachers to send home large numbers of children to self-isolate who do not necessarily have the virus.
“The government’s decision to end this disruptive policy when the autumn term begins now heralds another huge set of challenges for education settings. They need substantial support, both financially and practically, in setting up on-site asymptomatic testing for students when they return in September, installing high-quality air ventilation systems and in having robust outbreak management plans ready.
“All of these measures might not be needed if a decision is reached to vaccinate all students aged 12 and over and the continuing deafening silence from the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation on the subject is mystifying. With just days left of the current academic year, school and college leaders need to know whether this is a possibility or not.
“The resilience of schools and colleges in facing the day-to-day trials and tribulations of managing this incredibly difficult situation is remarkable and needs to be acknowledged.”