Concerns raised over rising school coronavirus absences in Scotland

Concerns have been raised over the safety of schools after official figures showed a rise in coronavirus-related absences.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has highlighted the growing number of pupils and teachers infected with Covid-19.

Official figures show 29,486 pupils were absent from school on Tuesday due to Covid-19 – an increase of 28 per cent on the previous week’s figure of 23,034.

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For teachers, the number was 1,559, which represents an 18 per cent increase on the previous week’s figure of 1,326.

Concerns have been raised over the safety of schools after official figures showed a rise in coronavirus-related absences. (Photo by Andy Buchanan - Pool/Getty Images)
Concerns have been raised over the safety of schools after official figures showed a rise in coronavirus-related absences. (Photo by Andy Buchanan - Pool/Getty Images)

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Our members are increasingly concerned by the week-on-week increase in the number of pupils and staff being infected with Covid-19.

“The weekly figures reveal an increasingly bleak picture and are leading to calls from members for a new approach to ensuring the safety of everyone within the school community.

“With the Deputy First Minister indicating today that some parts of Scotland may soon move to Level 4 restrictions, this will inevitably further heighten concerns over school safety and will prompt consideration of industrial action by our members if schools are forced to remain fully open when staff feel it is unsafe to do so.”

The number of absences for non-teaching on Tuesday has also risen from 880 on November 3 to 1,056.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We appreciate this has been a difficult time for families and pupils and are grateful to all the teachers, school staff and many others who have worked hard to return some normality to young people’s lives and keep them safe while they resume their classes.

“We are keeping the way guidance is being implemented in schools under close review, along with emerging scientific evidence to help us to protect our school community.

“Where there is a need to take action, we will work with teachers, parents, trades unions, local authorities and young people’s representatives to do so.”

He added: “We have made £80 million available to local authorities to recruit additional teachers and support staff in order to provide much-needed resilience to deal with coronavirus.

“After an initial dip when schools reopened, overall pupil attendance rates are now similar to average levels in previous years at around 90%.”

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