Plea over axing of free tests as Covid infections spike once again

School leaders have urged the government to continue to make free Covid tests available from April 1 after the recent improvement in infection rates proved to be a “false dawn”.

Both pupil and staff absence have risen dramatically over the past two weeks raising the prospect of significant disruption in the run-up to the Easter break.

Staff absence is of particular concern as, once again, nearly one in 10 teachers and school leaders are off school because of Covid.

The latest attendance figures are for March 17 (DfE, 2022) and paint a much more sobering picture than the promising March 3 statistics. They show:

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “These statistics chime with what we are hearing from schools. Once again many are seeing very severe disruption caused by Covid with high levels of both pupil and staff absence.

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