School closure warning: Pupils face being sent home in WEEKS – staffing crisis rocks UK


The seven day Covid isolation period could see many children forced back into virtual learning, as headteachers warned areas with higher cases may struggle to find enough supply staff to cover the gaps. Caroline Derbyshire, executive head at Saffron Walden County High School in Essex, said the shortages may result in schools – or at least some year groups – having to go back online.

Just yesterday, there were reports of schoolchildren being sent home less than one hour after being dropped off – after testing positive for the virus on arrival.

All secondary schools have been asked to provide on-site testing for pupils ahead of their return to the classroom this term to help reduce the spread of the virus.

Speaking about the expected disruption, Ms Derbyshire said: “This sort of mass of supply teachers that are supposed to be there — that’s not happened, has it?

“So if we have got shortages, it’ll be colleagues who are in school who’ll be doing most of the covering.

“If you hit a certain point with staff absences in a big school, you’re talking about maybe ten members of staff being off.

“You’ve suddenly got the inability to run a year group — that’s when you start having either year groups or whole parts of schools having to go online.”

Speaking to the Sun, she added: “That’s when you’re going to have that mixed economy of some students being in school and some at home.”

Ben Davis, headteacher of St Ambrose Barlow RC high school in Greater Manchester, told the Guardian there will be “a lot of disruption”.

READ MORE: Parents told to collect kids an HOUR after dropping them off at school

He is not yet sure which staff members will be out of isolation and available for work when pupils begin the return to school on Thursday.

He also said that he is expecting to have many “challenging conversations” about “masks and vaccinations” with parents.

He said: “What we are going to get on our return are absences of staff and children and a large number of challenging conversations with parents – those who are for or against masks and vaccinations – all of which distracts and takes time.”

Face masks are now once again compulsory in schools as part of an attempt to reduce the spread of the Omicron variant.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said keeping schools open is a “priority”.

He said: “Being in face-to-face learning is undoubtedly the very best place for children and young people’s education and wellbeing, and my priority remains on keeping early years settings, schools, colleges and universities open so that face-to-face education can continue.

“As we enter this new term, I want to thank all staff working in education for their continued dedication and resilience.

“It is through the hard work of all of you that we have ensured, and will continue to ensure pupils and students get the learning that they deserve.”

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said the Government is trying to minimise “disruption” to schooling.

He said: “We are doing all we can to minimise disruption this virus causes to everyday life, including keeping children in school, and regular testing is a key way to support schools and protect face-to-face teaching.

“Vaccines remain our greatest line of defence so I urge all 12 to 15-year-olds who have not come forward yet to get vaccinated, and all teachers to Get Boosted Now to protect yourself and those around you.”


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