With increasing numbers of staff contracting the virus, hundreds of kids have been instructed to switch to remote education.
In addition, with at least two instances of « horrific » Omicron variant confirmed in the UK, Parents are now concerned that schools could close next month if the super strain leads to an epidemic of infections.
Children are already being taken home from school, and their learning is being moved online because of the increasing number of cases.
St Mary’s Church of England Primary School in Hereford and Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio in Lancashire are shut for at least seven days. Other locations are within Buckinghamshire, Middlesborough and West Sussex, all closing for at least one day.
The Department for Education has told headteachers that sending large amounts of students home should only be an option as a « last resort » in « extreme cases ».
This comes after the secondary school was advised that they had to test every pupil on the premises following the break of Christmas to avoid an increase of Covid cases.
In an email addressed to teachers In an email sent to headteachers, DfE stated that testing students upon their return to classrooms at the beginning of January « will help reduce transmission after a period of social mixing » during the Christmas period.
However, a school leader’s union has accused the government of not recognizing that headteachers are teachers « rather than an ad hoc branch of the NHS ».
The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has stated that it isn’t logical for the authorities to impose a massive public health burden « with minimal support ».
Secondary schools were told to purchase enough testing equipment by Tuesday to ensure that each student can take the lateral flow test quickly in the classroom when they return. Concerns about the latest Super-mutant variant of Omicron increase.
A letter of the DfE to school principals read: « We would like all secondary schools to plan for the possibility of testing their students at their site in January when they return.
« We understand that this is a significant additional ask but testing continues to play a vital role in keeping Covid-19 out of schools. »
Secondary schools are also requested to purchase home-testing kits so that students can continue to take tests.
Julie McCulloch, director of policy at ASCL The ASCL director of policy has taken a swipe at the government’s request. She claims she believes it « does not fall within the remit of education ».
« We recognize the importance of Covid testing to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus, but it is not reasonable for the government to once again impose this considerable public health task on schools with minimal support, » she added.
« The function of schools shouldn’t be restricted to providing a location for test centres as well as informing students. However, the government requires them to manage the details of staffing and establishing testing centres.
« It seems to have forgotten that school leaders are educators rather than an ad hoc branch of the NHS. ».