School absences hit a new record high last week with more than 640,000 pupils forced off due to factors linked to the pandemic.
Around 561,000 children were self-isolating due to a possible contact with a Covid-19 case, while 34,000 pupils had a suspected case of coronavirus and 28,000 had a confirmed case of the virus.
More than 18,000 pupils were out of school because their school was closed.
The figures are a dramatic increase on the more than 330,000 pupils who were self-isolating due to potential contact with a Covid case – 270,000 of these involving potential contact in an educational setting – and tens of thousands more who were out of school with a suspected or confirmed coronavirus infection, over the previous seven days.
Government figures show that around one in 12 (8.5 per cent) state school pupils did not attend class for Covid-19-related reasons on 1 July, up from 5.1 per cent on 24 June and 3.3 per cent on 17 June.
Around 0.2 per cent of pupils were absent on 1 July because their school was closed due to Covid-19 related reasons, compared to 0.1 per cent the previous week.
Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “This is another massive rise in Covid-related pupil absence.
”The vast majority of these absences are children who are self-isolating not because they necessarily have the virus themselves, but because of potential contact with a positive case.
“It highlights why the government’s rules on Covid management in schools and colleges must change in order to end this educational disruption and the prime minister yesterday confirmed this will happen as part of the step 4 road map in England.
”We look forward to hearing the details from the education secretary this afternoon.“