TEACHERS have been told to stop sending entire year groups home “unnecessarily” if only one pupil tests positive for the Covid virus.
The Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield has warned education must not be sacrificed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
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In a letter being sent to MPs she said that just one pupil testing positive for the virus can send a school into “chaos”, with an entire year group being told to remain at home.
She said there were huge discrepancies in the interpretation of the guidance handed out on how to deal with Covid cases in schools and it was impacting on children’s education.
Ms Longfield told The Daily Telegraph: “On any given day, around a tenth of kids are at home, some in isolation.
“This rises to a fifth in some areas.
“There has been chaos in some schools, with some sending entire year groups home for a fortnight because a single pupil tests positive for Covid, something that is actually against government guidance and should stop.”
Official figures show that nearly half of secondary schools in England and Wales told kids to stay at home last week.
Figures from the Department of Education this week showed that 46 per cent of secondary school pupils and 16 per cent of primary schools pupils were sent home because of Covid-related issues.
Children’s education should not be sacrificed on the altar of Covid
Ms Longfield warned that some schools were being overcautious in sending an entire year group home when only a much smaller number of pupils may have come into contact with an infected person.
She said schools should stay open “no matter what”, adding: “Children’s education should not be sacrificed on the altar of Covid.”
Ms Longfield said that sending pupils home could be problematic because the quality of remote teaching was patchy at best.
She said: “The educational inequality this is contributing to is shocking.”
A legal duty for schools to provide good quality remote education for self-isolating pupils comes into effect today.
A spokesperson for the DfE said: “Over 99 per cent of schools have been open every week since term began, with over 7.3million pupils attending last week.”
Kids have a “near zero" risk of catching coronavirus at school, a top expert said in June this year.
Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatricians, said at the time there was an "incredibly low" risk of kids getting the virus.
Statistics published at the end of September showed coronavirus cases in children were not rising despite schools reopening.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said rates of the deadly bug haven't changed for children.
"School age children is one of the areas where rates are not going up, and this is true across the country," he said.
In younger groups, the academic said, "the rates are actually really not changing very much".
Schools shut to all but a few 'priority' children in March before reopening for all kids in September.
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