Parents are pulling their kids from school early to avoid their holidays being ruined by isolation orders, a report claims.
Families are said to be taking the drastic measures to save their summer trips, despite warnings infection numbers could soar after ‘Freedom Day’
It comes as official figures this week revealed more than 500,000 people were alerted by the NHS Covid app in a single week in what has been dubbed a growing ‘pingdemic’.
Schools have faced an absences crisis as ‘bubble’ rules saw record numbers pupils sometimes repeatedly sent home to learn remotely after classmates tested positive.
Growing numbers of parents are opting to bring their kids home to play truant so the family can avoid being hit with isolation orders ahead of planned summer trips, according to the Mail on Sunday.
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James Bowen, director of policy at the National Association of Head Teachers, told the newspaper: “We are picking up on reports of parents saying they will keep their child off school to avoid being asked to self-isolate during the school holidays.”
Earlier this week a headteachers’ union’s chief urged parents to send their kids to class over the last days of the summer term despite the risks of their summer holidays being ruined
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said the union was “concerned” about families withdrawing their children to avoid them having to potentially self-isolate.
Mr Barton is encouraging pupils who are not ill or self-isolating to attend class as normal ahead of the summer break.
The latest Government figures suggest that Covid-related pupil absence in England had hit a new record high since all students returned to classrooms in March, with more than 830,000 children out of school last week.
Mr Barton said: “We are concerned about parents keeping children at home over the last days of the summer term to avoid the risk of them being asked to self-isolate and this interfering with family holidays.
“We are not casting blame on parents because we understand the importance of holidays after such a torrid year, but we would encourage attendance where children are not ill or self-isolating.”
He added: “Schools are currently coping with very significant levels of pupil absence not only for Covid-related reasons but more generally.
“We are also hearing of more schools having to close because of spiralling Covid rates. It is a grim end to a highly disrupted academic year, and it is essential that the Government better supports schools and colleges in the autumn term to minimise further educational disruption.”
Current rules say that children must self-isolate for 10 days if another pupil in their bubble – which can be an entire year group at secondary school – tests positive for Covid.
About one in nine state school pupils did not attend class for Covid-related reasons on July 8,, according to Department for Education (DfE) statistics.
That included roughly 747,000 children self-isolating due to a possible contact with an infected person, 35,000 pupils with a suspected case and 39,000 with a confirmed case.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said it will be up to individual schools and colleges as to whether they scrap the bubble system on ‘Freedom Day’ Monday ahead of the summer holidays.
Lockdown restrictions are set to ease on July 19 as the government launches its fourth and final stage of the roadmap out of lockdown.
The Government has announced that from August 16, children in England will only need to self-isolate if they have tested positive for Covid-19.
Double-jabbed adults will also no longer be required to isolate by that date.
However concerns were raised in recent weeks that younger parents who had not yet had two vaccine doses faced risking ruined school summer holidays.
A Department for Education spokesperson said earlier this week: “Pupils should be in school during term-time and should only be self-isolating if they are required to, either because they have tested positive, or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.
“Children who are isolating must learn remotely from home. Schools should work with parents and carers where they have concerns about attendance.”