A HEREFORDSHIRE education chief has said public health officials are trying their best to avoid sending classes of children home due to Covid, but sometimes it is unavoidable.

Writing a letter to all parents of schoolchildren in Herefordshire, assistant director for education, development and skills Ceri Morgan said Covid cases have been rising across all age groups in the county.

Latest data from the Government shows the infection rate for Herefordshire, the number of cases per 100,000 people, stood at 727.7 on March 13 – more than a third higher than the week before.


Ms Morgan said schools sometimes had to send classes home for the safety of children, or because no staff could be found to replace those who had caught Covid.

She said the council realised that the unavoidable action can cause problems for parents, and puts more pressure on home and work life, adding the priority was to keep children in school.

School sends class home due to Covid

Blackmarston School, in Hereford's Honddu Close, has sent one class home for the rest of the week due to staff shortages "arising from Covid infection within the class team".

The special school, which has 98 pupils, said it would keep parents updated if the situation changed.

"Schools will always do their best to avoid sending children home and keep the length of class closure to an absolute minimum," Ms Morgan said.

"During the pandemic, Herefordshire schools have demonstrated a huge commitment to keeping children safe and in school, often in extremely difficult circumstances.

"We are full supportive of any school if the have to reluctantly decide that they have n other option but to close classes.

"We would like to thank you for continuing to support you child's school during this difficult time."

More pupils off school, data suggests

Data from the FFT Education Datalab's attendance tracker showed a rise in pupil absence in primary and secondary schools last week compared with the week before.

Absence increased from 5 per cent to 6.4 per cent for primary pupils and from 7.9 per cent to 8.8 per cent in secondary.


Figures compiled by Teacher Tapp, first reported by education website Tes, showed that in a survey of 6,643 teachers at the beginning of February, one in five secondary teachers (20 per cent) said that their schools had arranged merged classes in halls or the canteen due to Covid absences.

The survey showed that over one in 10 (13 per cent) of teachers had to teach remotely by 2 February, while 8 per cent had to teach a whole year group remotely.

And 48 per cent of respondents who were senior leaders reported they had had "many problems" getting supply staff since the start of the academic year in September 2021.

Union says reports are worrying

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "We have been hearing worrying reports from schools and colleges over the last few days about rapidly increasing rates of Covid-related absence among both pupils and staff.

"The Government seems to have largely drawn a line under the pandemic and moved on but the evidence coming from our schools and colleges is that business is still very far from being back to normal.

"Staff and pupils will continue to have access to Covid tests until the end of March and are therefore able to check whether any potential Covid symptoms are actually Covid, and isolate if so.

"The worry is that, once free testing stops as the Government is currently planning, the number of students and staff coming into classrooms with Covid could increase even further, and lead to even more disruption to education.