Covid: Attendance shows schools 'not out of the woods'

School leaders question DfE decision to remove masks-in-classroom rule as new figures show slight drop in attendance

Headteachers have warnd the DfE that schools are 'not out of the woods' on Covid, and questioned the decision to lift the requirement for students to wear face masks in secondary classrooms

Headteachers have warned the Department for Education not to risk the progress being made on keeping pupils in school after the latest figures showed a drop in attendance and an increase in pupils off with suspected cases of Covid-19. 

The latest government figures show attendance in state-funded schools was 92 per cent on 6 May, down from 93 per cent a week earlier.

The NAHT school leaders' union said the latest figures showed  that the schools system not "out of the woods" when it comes to the threat of the pandemic disrupting school life.

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And the union's general secretary, Paul Whiteman, has questioned the decision announced last night to lift the requirement for masks in secondary school classrooms.

More pupils off school with suspected Covid case

The data also reveals that the number of pupils off with a suspected case of Covid has gone up from 0.1 per cent to 0.2 per cent in a week.

This was an increase from 12,000 to 17,000 pupils.

However, the number of confirmed Covid cases remained the same as the week before at 3,000 pupils, or 0.1 per cent.

Mr Whiteman said: "The fact that we have seen a growing number of pupils needing to self-isolate raises further questions about the government’s apparent willingness to ignore the advice from scientists, including SAGE [the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies], when it comes to face coverings.

“No one wants to see restrictions in school for longer than is necessary, but nor do we want to see the progress of recent months put at risk.”

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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