Commenting on the latest Office for National Statistics Coronavirus COVID-19 Infection Survey for the UK through to 12 March, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

"Today's survey shows the percentage of primary/nursery-aged children with Covid-19 has risen significantly in just a week, from 4% to 6.3%. This now equates to two infected pupils in every primary class on average.

"The removal of restrictions has at every stage of the pandemic resulted in infection going up. Vaccination has played a critical role, but schools remain under pressure and we must ensure the least disruption to education possible. The Government's decision to stop Covid-19 testing in schools has made education disruption more likely, not less.  

"At such a critical time, with exam season looming, leaders are now faced with challenges on staffing and in some cases a sudden increase in remote learning. The Government should reconsider its decision to end regular testing in schools and must certainly drop its premature proposals to start charging for LFD test kits. Schools and many families will struggle to afford them, putting a simple safety measure out of reach.  

“The Government must also stop burying its head in the sand on ventilation and fund a nationwide programme of support to ensure no classroom fails to get the monitoring, air filtration, training, or building improvements required - not just for Covid-19 but for the long-term.  

“If Boris Johnson wants us to 'live with Covid-19' then he must make it viable for schools and colleges to do so."