Schools: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 25th November 2020.

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Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Shadow Secretary of State for Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate he has made of the number of pupils missing school as a result of staff absence for covid-19 related reasons.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

Schools remain open during the period of the new national restrictions. Where schools implement the system of controls outlined in the published schools guidance, in line with their own workplace risk assessment, Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirm that these measures create an inherently safer environment for children and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced.

As a result, on current evidence, PHE and DHSC advise that schools are not currently considered high risk settings when compared to other workplace environments.

It is therefore appropriate for teachers and other school staff to attend the workplace. Accordingly, we expect that staff – apart from the clinically extremely vulnerable who should work from home during the period of national restrictions – will attend school.

The Department for Education’s guidance for schools on full opening sets out the options available for schools seeking to manage staffing capacity as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

In addition to using supply teachers and other temporary or peripatetic teachers, schools can also consider using existing staff more flexibly, including support staff and Initial Teacher Training trainees, or volunteers, as would usually be the case.

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