SCHOOLS in Worcester are continuing to see pupils absent due to Covid as the winter illness season approaches.

Schools across the country are currently at 89 per cent attendance on average.

This has been the same situation in Worcester, with schools in the city being around the 90 per cent mark.

Neil Morris, headteacher at Christopher Whitehead Language College, said they were continuing to be cautious with both Covid and winter illnesses.

He said: "Covid is still very much with us unfortunately. We currently have 43 cases at the moment, with six staff cases, all of whom are double vaccinated.

"It is really difficult to prepare for the winter. We are normally aiming for 96 per cent attendance and upwards and are currently at 90.

"I spoke to Public Health who said the running average is about 89 per cent at the moment.

"We are keeping as much Covid safety in place as we can. We still have masks in lessons and there is hand sanitiser everywhere.

"We would rather carefully remove the Covid safety measures than suddenly abandon all of them.

"To be fair to them, the pupils, parents and staff have all been really supportive and have made a great effort.

"We've not had much of the usual flu or seasonal viruses over the last year or so with wearing masks, but it has been a torrid two years for the pupils."

Another Worcester School, Dines Green Community Academy, reported 91 per cent attendance in the week up to October 8, down from its usual target of 97 per cent.

The Department for Education (DfE) estimates that 2.5% of all pupils – more than 204,000 children – were not in class for reasons connected to coronavirus in the last week of September.

This is up from 122,300 children, or 1.5% of all pupils, on September 16 – a 67% rise from two weeks before.

The figures come as heads reported “a high level of disruption”, with a school leaders’ union warning that self-isolation rules are “actively contributing” to the spread of Covid-19 in schools.

Last week, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said the Government would not “stand back and let attendance fall” as education is “simply too important”.