Almost half of Sunderland secondary pupils miss school due to Covid in final week before summer holidays
A third of pupils in Sunderland missed school due to coronavirus ahead of the summer break, new figures reveal.
Department for Education data shows up to 34.6% of children were absent from local schools for reasons linked to Covid-19 on July 15 – the day of its last snapshot survey.
The data shows 29.8% of children were self-isolating due to possible contact with a Covid-19 case, while the rest had a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus, or were off as a result of Covid-related school closures.
The latest snapshot also shows 45% of secondary school pupils in the area were not in class for reasons related to Covid, while up to 28.5% of primary pupils were missing school.
Teachers and school staff were also impacted - with 13.3% missing work.
The Government has been criticised for its rules around "bubbles" in schools – with teachers, parents and unions complaining the system caused widespread disruption to children's education, after pupils already missed out on so much in-person teaching due to the lockdowns.
Current rules say children have to self-isolate for 10 days if another pupil in their bubble tests positive for Covid.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that the use of “bubbles” in schools will come to an end as the country eases lockdown restrictions and that it was up to individual schools whether they scrapped the system ahead of the summer holidays.
A record 1.13 million children in England were out of school for Covid-related reasons on July 15.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: "Removing the requirement for close contacts to automatically self-isolate will no doubt reduce absence figures, but it is also important that the Government does more to actively reduce case numbers among children and transmission in schools."
A DfE spokesman said: “Where children needed to isolate last term, schools were required to offer immediate access to high-quality remote education.
“As of step 4, schools no longer need to operate a bubble system, and from August 16 pupils will not need to self-isolate should they come into contact with a positive case.”