Teachers are becoming exasperated with the current Covid bubble system within schools, as it means sending home large proportions of their students for weeks at a time.
With the government discussing the possibility of discarding the isolation bubbles in schools due to the disruption and the fact that many healthy children are missing out on face-to-face learning, several headteachers are expressing their concern.
Government data suggests that within the last week, 375,000 pupils were off school in England, which is a 400% increase in the past month.
Manchester headteacher, Ben Davis, has revealed his tenuous relationship with the system within his school, stating that he had 40 cases in the past three weeks, which meant 191 pupils self-isolating at home.
His school, St Ambrose Barlow Roman Catholic High School, had to self-isolate over 300 pupils at home last Friday, which was more than a third of the student body.
Although the bubbles meant at-home learning for his students, it often led to entire classes being in self-isolation, and teachers focussing completely on the online lesson rather than splitting their time and attention.
Davis said: “The logic of bubbles makes sense. If they are going to get rid of bubbles next week, that feels extremely precipitous and very reckless.
“My reservation about saying bubbles should go – and in many respects I would like to see that happen – is that something else protective has to be in place in schools instead.”
My reservation about saying bubbles should go – and in many respects I would like to see that happen – is that something else protective has to be in place in schools instead
He added: “If it’s not in place, really what we are saying is we are prepared to put children and the education workforce at greater risk.
“We are still seeing high levels of infection, and we don’t know what September is going to be like.”
Another school in the surrounding area, Newman Roman Catholic College, has seen their student body halved due to Covid cases.
With 33 positive Covid cases in the last three weeks, headteacher Glyn Potts was forced to send around 600 pupils home to self-isolate, becoming one of the worst affected schools in the borough.
Potts stated: “I take real offence at the comment that schools are perhaps being too eager to send children home, absolutely the opposite is true.”
He has many concerns for his vulnerable pupils having time off school where they can be induced into gangs and county lines.
After admitting that he and his staff cannot guarantee that all of the pupils will be at home all of the time isolating given the good weather, he said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them haven’t gone to the park or whatever because it’s human nature.
“Surely having them in school would be better?”