Headteachers have called for Ofsted to move this term's school visits online, warning there is a public health question over inspectors moving from school to school as Covid cases increase.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it would make more sense for inspectors to stop going into schools in person given the current situation with the virus.
Mr Barton's comments come as the latest Department for Education figures show that the majority of secondaries and one in four schools overall have one or more pupils off after potential contact with a Covid case in their school.
Mr Barton said: "There is surely a public health consideration in avoiding a situation in which inspectors are going in and out of schools, particularly in high-risk areas.
“It would make more sense to carry out the autumn visits online rather than in-person given the circumstances.
"And it has always been our view that they should only have been used to gain an overview of the response of schools to the Covid emergency, and not to publish individual letters following visits, as this makes them feel like quasi-inspections.”
Ofsted said it did not want to comment.
Tes revealed earlier this year that Ofsted's own HMI had asked chief inspector Amanda Spielman why its visits this term could not be held online.
They also raised fears that inspectors could become a "Typhoid Mary" by unwittingly spreading the coronavirus from school to school.