Commenting on figures for week 23 published today, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
"Attendance figures for the week before half-term show troubling levels of Covid-related absence among both pupils and staff in areas affected by the new Delta variant of Covid-19. In Bolton, almost a third of secondary pupils (31%) and over a fifth of primary pupils (21%) were absent for Covid-related reasons on 27 May. And 8% of teachers and support staff were absent for Covid-related reasons on the same date. Figures in other variant-hit authorities like Blackburn with Darwen were lower, but still well above the national averages.
"These figures are deeply concerning for the communities concerned and also provide a warning for the rest of the country about the potential spread of Covid in schools for the rest of the academic year, and the resulting disruption to education if the Government does not get a grip on the situation.
"In order to keep face-to-face learning on a sustainable footing, Government must take the rising secondary school case numbers seriously. The requirement for staff and students to wear face coverings should be reinstated, and the encouragement for pupil testing must be kept up."