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School attendance ‘remains mandatory’, warns Nadhim Zahawi as pupils sent home

Kevin Courtney, NEU’s joint secretary general, told The Telegraph: “We’ve heard that there are schools where there are more and more staff who have to isolate because they test positive and schools can’t find supply staff.

“There are some schools that have had to close their doors to some groups for a year because they didn’t have staff, and others worry about when that will happen to them.”

Officials at the Department of Education (DfE) insisted on Thursday that face-to-face education must continue and that attendance at school remains mandatory.

They said “schools will not close early” as a result of the Omicron COVID variant and “Plan B” restrictions.

But many schools across the country have started closing their doors and directing children to distance learning for a while.

Arlecdon Primary School, in Cumbria, announced on Thursday that it would be closing for a five-day “circuit breaker” following advice from local public health officials.

Kingswood High Academy in Corby, Northamptonshire, sent two-year groups home until the start of the next term due to a “lack of staff due to illnesses”. In a letter to parents, school principal Michelle Neumann said all pupils in grades seven and eight should stay at home and receive distance education until the Christmas holidays.

Todholm Primary School, in Paisley, Renfrewshire, is also closed due to “the impact of self-isolation on school staff numbers”. It is set to reopen on Monday after five days of distance learning.

Pinner High School in north London has sent several children home to self-isolate after they were identified as having close contact with a suspected case of omicron.



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