Some classes could be sent home – warning

Unions warned this week that staff shortages due to teachers falling sick from Covid-19 could lead to some classes being sent home.

Geoff Barton, head of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was right to keep schools open but teacher numbers would fall due to illness.

He added that schools would also be considering whether to change attendance patterns if they did not have enough staff to cover classes in the new year, although he stressed this would be at the “bottom of the list” of heads’ contingency planning.

“We just don’t know how much that will be the case, but we know it was the case going into Christmas,” he said.

“The question is whether Christmas has worked as a kind of circuit-breaker or whether what we’re going to see, with almost ten million children going back into schools next week, whether actually you very quickly get increased numbers of staff being affected. There’s just lots of uncertainties.”

He said schools were doing “scenario planning” before their pupils returned and that “in the worst-case scenario, if you couldn’t cover all of your year groups in that situation, you would have to make a decision – in secondary, for example, are you going to say exam classes come back and others are remote learning?”

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