Council claims Covid-19 absences in South Lanarkshire are ‘not significant’

More than 130 teachers in South Lanarkshire have been off work as a result of Covid-19 since schools returned following the summer break.

South Lanarkshire Council confirmed over 130 teachers have been absent due to Covid-19, but has no figures for how many pupils were affected

Figures released under Freedom of Information (FoI) laws revealed that 132 teachers in primary and secondary schools were off work in the first three months of this school year.

The overall number of teacher absences increased in August and September 2020 compared to the same months in 2019.

Sign up to our GlasgowWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

However, the total number of teachers absent in October – when coronavirus cases peaked in South Lanarkshire – fell when compared to October 2019.

In August, six primary and seven secondary school teachers were off work for Covid-related reasons and that increased to 15 and 35 respectively in September.

October saw 27 primary and 42 secondary school teachers absent as a result of coronavirus.

A spokesperson for South Lanarkshire Council said: “Teacher absence in any year does fluctuate from month to month and Covid related absences are not a significant feature here.”

Pupil absences have also increased following the return to school in August.

Absences among primary school pupils peaked in the second week back after summer at 14 per cent – almost four times more than the same week in 2019.

Pupils absent among primary schools in the region has been higher than 2019 when only two of the first 10 weeks back after summer saw 5.5 per cent of pupils or more off – in just one week for the same period in 2020 were less than 5.5 per cent of primary pupils off.

The number of secondary school pupils off in the first week back in 2020 was one per cent less than the same week in 2019 but each of the next nine weeks saw a higher absence rate.

Absences from secondary schools peaked at 19.1 per cent in the third week back after summer – up from 11.2 per cent for the same week in 2019.

Last year only two of the first 10 weeks back after summer saw 12 per cent of secondary pupils or more off – in just two weeks for the same period in 2020 were less than 12 per cent of secondary pupils off.

The council was unable to confirm the number of pupils who have had to take time off school as a result of coronavirus as pupil attendance is recorded twice per day.

In response to a FoI request, a spokesperson said: “The presentation of such data for over 40,000 pupils would need to be to a much higher degree of granularity to allow for meaningful data.”