The proportion of schools reporting that they are not fully open because of suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 has quadrupled in a week.
Attendance data from the Department for Education showed that 4 per cent of schools reported they were not fully open because of Covid as of last Thursday, up from 1 per cent the previous week.
Schools are considered fully open if they are able to provide face-to-face teaching for all pupils on roll for the whole school day and they have not asked a group of pupils to self-isolate.
Overall, around 94 per cent of schools were not fully open – which is actually a small improvement from the 92 per cent of schools partially closed in the previous week (September 10).
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Under the circumstances of rising infection rates in the community, and severe problems with the Covid testing system, that is not at all surprising. Frankly, it is a great relief that the situation is not a lot worse.
“Schools are working incredibly hard to manage this very difficult situation, and leaders tell us that there is often little time left in the day for anything other than dealing with symptomatic or positive cases, and navigating the complexities of the public health system.”
The DfE said 99.9 per cent of schools were open on September 17. Of the small proportion (0.1%) of schools that were closed, this was mostly due to COVID-19 related reasons.
The DfE said that local public health protection teams are working with the 0.1% of schools completely closed to “support them to reopen as soon as possible”.
But the proportion of pupils attending schools has fallen – from 88 per cent on September 10, to 87 per cent last Thursday.
The DfE said the schools partially closed are “only doing so for some pupils – the small class or year group bubble that has been in close contact with a suspected case”.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson added: “The fact so many schools are open is testament to that hard work and, crucially, means children and young people can continue their education with minimal disruption.”
1 in 5 pupils with EHCPs absent
The government has also for the first time this term published data on the proportion of pupils with certain characteritstics.
It shows that just almost 20 per cent of pupils with education, health and care plans have been absent from schools between September 11 and 17. As of last Thursday, just 80.5 per cent of pupils with EHCPs were in attendance.
Attendance among pupils with a social worker was also lower than the national level for all pupils, at 82.5 per cent last Thursday.