Over 5,000 Scottish school staff absent due to Covid

Almost 3,000 of those staff unable to attend school this week were teachers, national statistics show
14th January 2022, 12:12pm
Emma Seith

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Over 5,000 Scottish school staff absent due to Covid

https://www.tes.com/magazine/news/general/covid-over-5000-scottish-school-staff-absent-due-covid
Covid school staff absence: More than 5,000 school staff, including 3,000 teachers, were absent for Covid-related reasons in Scotland this week

Some schools have had to close and entire year groups have been sent home since Scottish schools began returning after the school break last week, following the emergence of the Omicron Covid variant.

Now the first official figures showing the scale of the challenge that schools are facing have been published by the Scottish government. As expected, they show staff absence as a result of Covid-19 at its highest level this school year.

On Tuesday 11 January, 5,137 school staff were absent for Covid-related reasons in Scotland - because they had the virus or were self-isolating or for other reasons.

Of the total unable to attend work because of the virus, 2,936 were teachers and 2,201 were "other school-based staff".

On Tuesday 14 December, 3,291 school staff were absent for Covid-related reasons; 2,048 of them were teachers.

The latest figures on the pupil attendance rate - also updated today - show that it was at 89.1 per cent on Tuesday. A total of 6.9 per cent of pupils were absent for non-Covid reasons and 4.1 per cent were absent for Covid reasons.  

On Tuesday 14 December, attendance was at 85.2 per cent.

Covid school staff absence causing 'significant disruption'

On the day that schools started to reopen in Scotland - Wednesday of last week - one secondary headteacher spoke to Tes Scotland as he supervised two classes that had been brought together in the school's dining hall because of staff absence. The following day that headteacher had to send an entire year group home.

Meanwhile, Jon Reid, the headteacher of Larbert High School in Falkirk, who is also the president of School Leaders Scotland, said that while schools were managing in many cases to open, it was "not business as usual" and the number of students whose learning had been disrupted was "significant". He called for schools to be given more information on what would be coming up in this year's exams to compensate.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has now said that a decision will soon be taken on whether there will be more revision support for students, but that "the clear intention" is for the exams to take place.

Changes to the rules on self-isolation - announced last week by first minister Nicola Sturgeon on the day that Scottish schools started reopening - are expected to have an impact on absence levels.

Close contacts no longer have to self-isolate providing they have a negative lateral flow test for seven days and are fully vaccinated, or under 18 years old.

In Scotland, positive cases can now leave isolation after seven days if they have a negative lateral flow test on the sixth and the seventh day, 24 hours apart.

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