Parents in fear of missing out on their holidays let their children avoid school – to avoid being pinged
- Virus-related absenteeism in English schools hit a new record since students returned
- A growing number of young people are kept at home to avoid the risk of ping
- In the first week of July, 530,126 people were ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid app
Children are taken out of school in the last days of the summer period as parents desperately try to save their family vacation.
The Mail on Sunday has learned that growing numbers of young people are being kept at home to avoid the risk of being ‘pinged’ or being told to isolate themselves.
Education associations say they are ‘concerned’ about the situation, which comes at the end of another year where children have missed months of schooling due to the pandemic.
But parents are reluctant to cancel summer vacations just because their child was in the same ‘bubble’ as another student who had tested positive.
The Mail on Sunday has learned that growing numbers of young people are being kept at home to avoid the risk of being ‘pinged’ or being told to isolate themselves
Reports of mothers and dads letting their offspring get lost come as virus-related absenteeism in English schools hit a new record since students returned in March. Of the 830,000 who were home last week, 750,000 – nearly a tenth of all school children – were isolated after being in contact with a Covid case. More than 620,000 did so at school.
James Bowen, police director at the National Association of Head Teachers, said: ‘We are getting reports of parents saying they want to keep their child away from school to avoid being asked to isolate themselves during the school holidays.’
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was’ concerned ‘that the term ends prematurely for some students, adding:’ We do not blame parents because we understand the importance of holidays after such a torrid year.
‘But we want to encourage presence where children are not sick or isolating themselves.’
Mother of three Heddwen Lois Williams from Caernarfon in North Wales is one of the parents who keeps her children at home to avoid having to cancel a family trip. ‘It’s the last week before summer and I know everyone’s starting to win down. “Because of the timing, I do not feel guilty that they are losing anything,” she said.
Alex Donne, also from Wales, said: ‘Several classes at my children’s school have confirmed cases, so I do not take the risk of them catching anything from school.’
Reports of mothers and fathers letting their offspring get lost come as virus-related absenteeism in English schools hit a new record since pupils returned in March
Leicestershire County Council has written to parents warning that they are legally obliged to send their children to school until the official end of term. The letter claimed that most Covid cases in children ‘were spread at parties and gatherings in the community’ rather than in school.
On the Mumsnet website, many questioned the importance of being in school during the dying days of academic years. One person wrote: ‘School is a damp trick now anyway, as none of the usual fun happens in the summer.’
Meanwhile, employers are increasingly concerned that the country is taking a break due to the ‘ping-pong’. The London Underground became the last victim yesterday, with the Metropolitan line suspended ‘due to lack of control room staff having to isolate themselves after notification via the Test and Trace app’. Parts of the Piccadilly and District lines were also affected.
In the first week of July, 530,126 people were ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid app and told to isolate themselves, an increase of almost half the week before. If the number has increased at the same rate since then, more than a million people may have to isolate themselves next week, and some estimates suggest that as many as six million may be forced into quarantine before the end of the month.
Steve Rowe, CEO of Marks & Spencer, predicted that around one in five UK retailers would be quarantined within a month. Companies and unions have also warned that factories are closing due to staff shortages.