Derbyshire County Council ready to support schools as Covid staff shortage concerns grow

Derbyshire County Council is ready to support schools in the area ahead of their return next week amid fears over possible staff shortages due to Covid-19.

Thursday, 6th January 2022, 9:32 am

Many pupils across England returned to the classroom this week, with secondary schools students once again asked to wear a facemask and take a lateral flow test on site before starting lessons.

But some headteachers are already reporting difficulties due to the number of staff off sick or having to self-isolate while others have raised concerns about the supply of lateral flow tests.

Now, as schools in Derbyshire gear up for their return on Monday, the county council said it is prepared to offer its support where needed in a bid to help reduce any disruption as reported by others across the country.

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Derbyshire County Council said it is ready to support schools amid national concern over Covid staff shortages and lateral flow tests (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

A Derbyshire County Council spokesperson said: “Schools in Derbyshire do not return until January 10 2022.

“As always, we are urging schools to ensure they are following the latest Government guidance to ensure the safety of pupils and staff and reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus and to prioritise keeping young people in face to face learning.

"If there is a need to return to online learning in any school, we know that schools will only do this as a last resort and for a short period of time, as they have done before.

“We are closely monitoring the situation in Derbyshire and will offer support to schools where it is needed.”

The Department for Education (DfE) told schools on Tuesday that orders for additional lateral flow tests should be placed by 5pm the same day in order to secure deliveries next week.

Earlier in the week ministers also suggested that schools, if faced with high levels of staff absence, should combine classes and teach in larger groups in order to keep children in school.

The email said: “You may wish to use existing teaching, temporary and support staff more flexibly where required to ensure your setting remains open, while ensuring that you continue to have appropriate support in place for pupils with [special education needs and disabilities].

“As pupils do not need to be kept in consistent groups, you may wish to consider combining classes.”