Teachers at schools across the UK including Sheffield say Covid staff shortages are having 'major' impact

Nearly a quarter of teachers surveyed, including those in Sheffield, say staff absences due to Covid-19 are having a major impact on their schools.

Monday, 10th January 2022, 5:21 pm

NASUWT - The Teachers' Union said 23 per cent of nearly 7,000 teachers responding to a survey said staff shortages were having a significant impact, while 61 per cent said they were having some impact since schools reopened last week.

According to the survey, conducted between January 4 and January 10, almost half (46 per cent) of teachers have had to cover for absent colleagues, and only 44 per cent said their school has a plan in place for deploying carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors in their school, while some 18 per cent said there is no plan in place.

Teachers across England took part in the survey, with just over 11 per cent of respondents working in Yorkshire and Humberside.

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A survey of school teachers found that nearly 20 per cent of respondents are 'very anxious' about the impact of Covid at the start of the new school term, while more than 30 per cent are 'quite anxious'

The survey also found that 1,379, or 19.77 per cent, of respondents are 'very anxious' about the impact of COVID at the start of the new school term, while 30.52 per cent, or 2,129, are "quite anxious".

Quizzed about whether staff were being asked to cover lessons due to absences, 46.01 percent or 3,194 said yes, while 53.99 percent or 3,748 said no.

When it comes to the deployment of CO2 monitors, which allow staff to quickly identify where ventilation needs to be improved, a staggering 2,696 respondents, or 38.69 percent, said they were unsure.

However, more than half of respondents (58.78 percent, or 4,066 respondents) said secondary school students are following the new guidance on mandatory face coverings.

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‘It is disturbing’

NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “It is very concerning that our members are telling us that staff absences due to Covid-19 are having serious impacts on teaching and learning.

“Higher rates of staff absence are making a very challenging situation much worse for schools struggling to maintain appropriate staffing levels without disrupting pupils’ education.

“Whilst the start of term saw around 1 in 10 teachers absent due to Coronavirus, these numbers are likely to increase in the absence of effective measures to ensure Covid-safety in classrooms.

“It is disturbing that teachers tell us that in some schools there is no effective system in place for deploying CO2 monitors in classrooms.

“Urgent additional investment is needed in providing air filtration units to every classroom where they are needed. Ensuring good ventilation is vital to minimising further disruption to pupils’ education.

“Inviting schools to bid for the limited number of air purifiers that are being made available by the Government is simply not good enough. The safety of pupils and staff in classrooms should not be a lottery.”

The latest data made available by Public Health England shows Sheffield’s Covid infection rate leapt by 49.8 per cent in the seven days to January 4, 2022.

There were 12,229 new cases in Sheffield that week – up by 4,065 from the previous seven days, with an infection rate of 2,075.5 per 100,000 people.

The National Education Union previously expressed its concern that schools could end up being combined due to staff shortages caused by the emergence of the new Omicron Covid variant.