Nearly 30 per cent of all Hammersmith and Fulham secondary school children were absent at the same time this half-term due to self-isolation rules

By Owen Sheppard, Local Democracy Reporter

Nearly 30 per cent of all secondary school pupils in Hammersmith and Fulham were absent from lessons at the same time during this half-term, because of the need to self-isolate.

Government data published on Tuesday revealed the percentage of pupils in every area of the country that were absent in each week between last week and November 2, the Monday after half-term.

It was decided from September that if one child or staff member showed symptoms of Covid-19, all staff and pupils in their class or year group “bubble” should self-isolate.

The Government said this was the best system available to ensure children could stay in school as much as possible, while trying to limit the spread of the virus.

In Hammersmith and Fulham, the virus appeared to affect the largest numbers of schoolchildren in mid-November.

On Thursday, November 19, 28 per cent of all secondary school pupils, and 19 per cent of all primary school pupils, were absent at the same time.

By contrast, there was 93-94 per cent attendance in primary and secondary schools on Thursday, November 5.

Other areas of the country saw higher rates of absence. Liverpool had 30 per cent of its secondary pupils at home on Thursday, November 19, while Birmingham’s secondary schools had 32 per cent of pupils absent on the same day.

Elsewhere in London, the borough of Hackney had 35 per cent of secondary pupils absent on Thursday, December 10.

Havering, in East London, had 38 per cent of secondary pupils absent on Thursday, December 3.

Data on the precise number of children or staff who actually had the virus is not known.

The news came as the Department for Education announced that “rapid” lateral-flow Covid tests will be made available in all schools from January.

Currently, only people who are displaying symptoms can order a test, which has made it impossible to know whether people have the virus without experiencing symptoms.

The lateral-flow tests provide results in under 30 minutes. It is hoped that this will avoid the need for children and school staff to self-isolate.


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