MORE than 500 students were absent from school in Worcestershire with confirmed covid infections last week.

They were amongst the 100,000 reported absent throughout the UK by the Department for Education.

Figures published by the Department for Health reveal that 529 young people up to the age of 19 tested positive for the virus between September 9 and September 15.

A breakdown of the statistics shows 161 of those cases were children aged between 0-9 and 386 of them were aged 10 and 19.

This shows a slight drop in numbers, with the previous week totalling 637 cases of primary and secondary students contracting covid-19 in the county.

Parents across the region are still choosing to keep pupils at home for safety reasons, despite the ongoing public health restrictions in schools and the recent extension of the vaccine to 12-15-year-olds.

Stephen Powell, headteacher at Nunnery Wood High School on Spetchley Road, said the school is ready to step up measures.

He said: "Although attendance remains high, covid absence is similar to levels at the end of the summer – albeit without the damaging effects of isolation.

"Over the past week, colds and normal flu have accounted for a high number of absences – perhaps because students have lost some of their immunity.

"Where the absence is more persistent, we’re supporting families with home visits and other strategies for re-engaging students with school."

He added: "We’re maintaining some measures – ventilation and sanitising – and there’s a little more zoning of students. We’re ready to step up measures if we’re directed to do so by Public Health."

Figures more than doubled in the first week of July at the start of the summer break. Children aged 0-9 saw an increase in cases in one week, changing from 42 positive cases to 133. Young people aged 10-19 also saw cases increase, with numbers jumping from 221 to 427 positive cases.

Since the end of July, young people under the age of 18 who have come into contact with a covid case are not automatically required to self-isolate, but are asked to take a PCR test instead.