Up to one million schoolchildren are reportedly skipping class as the nation is gripped by the fear of a second coronavirus spike.
Official attendance records have shown that of the 8.82 million schoolchildren in the UK, around one in eight pupils have not returned to school, despite 96 per cent of schools fully reopening since the pandemic.
The figures from the Department for Education (DfE) also show many state schools have had to close their doors in the past few weeks.
According to their research, the number of schools closed or partly closed due to suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases rose to 4% last week, up from 1% the week before.
The sobering statistics come amid a tightening of coronavirus restrictions, with a raft of new restrictions imposed on the nation from tomorrow.
Schools are considered not fully open if they are unable to provide face-to-face teaching for all pupils on roll for the whole school day (pictured: pupils from Year 11 at Hazelwood Integrated College in Belfast are pictured during a lesson)
Public Health England data reveals that of the 729 outbreaks in the week to September 13, only 21 per cent occurred in schools and college
In a speech in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson laid out new curbs to restrict the spread of the virus.
These included encouraging all those who can to work from home, unless they work in industries such as construction and retail.
Requirement to wear face coverings will be extended to include retail workers and customers in indoor hospitality settings, and pubs, restaurants and bars will be required to adhere to a strict 10pm curfew.
Pupils are still expected to attend school, however education leaders have warned that children’s education has been disrupted as teachers and pupils have struggled to access tests to rule out Covid-19 since schools reopened this month.
Schools are considered to be not fully open if they are unable to provide face-to-face teaching for all pupils for the whole school day and have asked a group of students to self-isolate.
Approximately 87% of students were in school on September 17, which is down from 88% on September 10, according to the Government figures.
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, called on the Government to improve its testing regime to avoid ‘throwing away’ the progress made by reopening schools
One in eight state school students did not go back when classrooms reopened after this month the coronavirus lockdown, according to official figures (pictured: pupils on the first day back to school at Charles Dickens Primary School in Borough, South London)
Approximately 88 per cent of state school pupils were back in class last Thursday, meaning that 12 per cent of children were marked absence (pictured: pupils from Year 11 at Hazelwood Integrated College are pictured during their first day back to the school in Belfast)
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, has called on the Government to improve its testing regime in order to avoid ‘throwing away’ the progress made by reopening schools.
For thousands of students their return to school at the start of September was curtailed because of coronavirus outbreaks in the classroom amid a fiasco over testing.
Headteachers warned that schools would’grind to a halt’ if teachers and pupils can’t get tested quickly to avoid whole-school closure.
Government guidance states that school attendance is mandatory from the beginning of the autumn term, while pupils or members of their households with coronavirus symptoms should not attend school.
If someone who has attended school is tested positive for Covid-19, pupils they have been in close contact with will be asked to self-isolate.
The DfE statistics suggest 99.9% of state schools were open – either fully or partially – on September 17, but the small proportion that were shut (0.1%) were due to Covid-19 related reasons.
Pupil attendance was higher – around 88% – in fully open state schools on Thursday, but it was still down from 90% on September 10.
On average, around 95% of pupils attended state schools in England in the 2018-19 academic year.
Schools in England have been hit with Covid-19 cases since it became compulsory for pupils to return to class this month.
Some have closed their doors days after reopening, while others have told year groups to self-isolate for two weeks following confirmed cases.
On Tuesday, Bath and North East Somerset Council announced that East Harptree Church of England Primary School will close for 14 days following two confirmed cases of Covid-19 at the school.
The response rate to the weekly survey of schools on pupil attendance was 76% – but the DfE adjusted the data to account for those that did not respond.