COVID-19 Update: Schools and authorities having to respond to increased local disruption

The latest data published by the Department for Education (DfE) on attendance at schools in England, shows an increase in COVID-19 related pupil absence in all state-funded schools over the period 16-30 September.

There are also reports of leaders and local authorities taking extra action to control the spread of the virus in schools. The DfE contingency framework includes case thresholds that could prompt school leaders to seek public health advice and consider extra action, such as increased testing, temporarily reintroducing face coverings and restricting attendance as a short-term measure (and very much as a last resort). Over a quarter of respondents to a survey conducted by the National Association of Headteachers said their schools have already breached the threshold for cases set out in the contingency framework. Respondents also reported that, on average, they have had three members of staff absent this term due to COVID-19. Some local authorities are providing their schools with "recommended controls" to prevent outbreaks as well as encouraging secondary school pupils to wear face coverings in communal areas.