Commenting on the latest weekly influenza data published by Public Health England, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“According to this week's Government data Covid cases amongst school children are now at higher levels even than the autumn term peaks.
“Unsurprisingly, there are now many anecdotes of parents starting to keep children off - trying to avoid their child having to self-isolate for the first days of a planned holiday.
“Gavin Williamson has remained silent over these increasing outbreaks and increasing cases ever since he abandoned the mask-wearing mandate in mid-May.
“Gavin Williamson appears to have written off this term, and his dilatory attitude may now also write off many families' summer holidays.
“From Monday track and trace for school children passes to the NHS. Guidance published today says that from Monday, ‘Contacts in an educational setting will be traced if the positive case specifically identified an individual as having close, prolonged contact which will normally have occurred in a social setting e.g. sleepovers.’ This is a much stricter definition of close contact than that currently in use.
“But the responsibility this weekend still rests with school leaders who are obliged to contact parents of close contacts on the current definition and to tell parents their child needs to isolate.
“Gavin Williamson needs to speak to parents and carers to explain what will happen about summer holidays and isolation if their child is a close contact – he shouldn't leave this messaging to head teachers.”