As reported by BBC News, headteacher has warned schools face a “perfect storm” with COVID this year amid fears of teacher absences and lateral flow test shortages
Mike Walters, chairman of the Kent Association of Headteachers, which represents 600 schools, said schools may close as teachers self-isolate. Talks are scheduled on between headteachers, the Department for Education (DfE) and council officials. The government said education was its “number one priority”.
Walters, executive principal at Canterbury’s St Anselm’s Catholic School, said: “We will try to stay open for as long as possible and see what happens.
“However, if we have insufficient school staff to carry out teaching, we may have to take decisions to close schools over the next few weeks.”
He added: “It’s a perfect storm of a big increase in demand for teaching and a lack of supply teachers.”
Around one third of Kent teaching staff were not in school before the Christmas holidays due to COVID pressures.
Ahead of the return to classrooms this week, secondary school pupils were instructed to wear face masks in classes to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. On Sunday, education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said an extra 7,000 air cleaning units will be installed in England’s schools and colleges to improve ventilation in classes.
Zahawi said: “There is no doubt the Omicron variant presents challenges but the entire education sector has responded with a Herculean effort.
“The prime minister and I have been clear that education is our number one priority.”
The government has suggested merging classes into bigger bubbles to cope with teacher shortages and keep schools open.
However, Alan Brookes, the former chairman of the KAH, said: “Bigger classes are very dangerous from a COVID transmission stand point.
“That is also putting schools as ‘childminders’ to simply provide somewhere for the children to go.”