One in five teachers have reported significant numbers of pupil absences at their school, according to a survey.
And nearly half (47 per cent) of teachers surveyed said they had concerns that teacher shortages, due to self-isolating or lack of testing, will lead to difficulties when trying to maintain sufficient staff levels.
The survey of 5,451 National Education Union (NEU) members in England suggested 80 per cent had seen pupil absences in their school because of self-isolating and/or a lack of access to tests.
A fifth reported “significant” numbers of pupil absences at their school and 19 per cent said a whole bubble of children had been sent home.
Almost three in four (74 per cent) of school staff said they believed prioritising pupils and staff for Covid-19 testing was needed to ensure schools remain open to all pupils all week throughout the coming months.
More than half (51 per cent) of teachers said they have witnessed a significant increase in hardship for pupils and families at their school since the start of lockdown in March.
The majority (84 per cent) of NEU members said they do not trust the government to keep schools safe, to protect workers at greater risk, to listen to the profession, to support vulnerable and disadvantaged children or to ensure exams and assessment are fit for purpose this academic year.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “School and college staff are doing everything they can to keep schools open for all pupils, but the government is not pulling its weight.
“Our survey shows all too clearly that a lack of access to testing and the disruption of self-isolation, often due to the lack of a test result, is undermining the ability of schools to maintain fully-staffed on-site learning for all those who need it.
“The results also show an imminent danger that this problem will become very widespread indeed.”
He added: “The government had months to prepare a fit-for-purpose test, track and trace system, and they failed.
“The message from our members is clear. Schools kept their side of the bargain in getting schools open this September; it is time for the government to keep theirs.”
The online survey was carried out ahead of an NEU conference on Saturday which will look at health and safety and workload pressures on staff during the pandemic, as well as the exams system in 2021.
Additional reporting by Press Association