With 1,189,985 people testing positive last week, heads of schools fear staff shortages as children gear up for the return to school
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More than one million Brits are in self isolation due to Covid as back to work and school chaos awaits.
According to the latest figures 1,189,985 people had tested positive for coronavirus between 28 December 2021 and 3 January 2022.
Children risk chaotic returns to schools as heads fear staff will be off work struck down with Covid.
Schoolchildren could be taught in merged classes if the number of teachers off sick skyrockets this week, the Education Secretary has said.
Nadhim Zahawi insisted face-to-face teaching will remain “the norm” when schools reopen on Tuesday.
Some classes may be taught in larger groups where teacher absences are high, however, and civil servants have a back-up plan for some online learning where there are major staff shortages.
It comes after NHS bosses warned of an intensifying “health emergency” as Covid hospitalisations continued to rocket across the festive period.
The problem is exacerbated by staff absences as more and more NHS workers catch the virus.
Governments have altered coronavirus rules in the new year period amid the rising case rates fuelled by the Omicron variant.
The self-isolation period has been reduced in most of the UK while schoolchildren in England will now be required to wear face coverings in the classroom.
In England, the Education Secretary has said face-to-face teaching will continue and remain “the norm” as he outlined a series of Covid measures for schools.
Nadhim Zahawi said secondary pupils will have to wear masks in classrooms and should have a coronavirus test at school before beginning the new term, followed by regular tests at home.
England had the most relaxed rules in the UK for New Year celebrations although Covid passes for entry into nightclubs and other venues have been in place since December 15.
This applies to indoor events with 500 or more attendees where people are likely to stand or move around, such as music venues, as well as certain outdoor events, such as music festivals, and any events with 10,000 or more attendees.
Face coverings have also been made compulsory in most indoor public settings, as well as on public transport, and people have been told to work from home if they can.
If a person in England has tested positive or has symptoms, they can stop self-isolating after seven days instead of 10 if they receive two negative lateral flow test results on days six and seven.
Those who are unvaccinated close contacts of positive cases must still isolate for 10 days.
Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to go in to work but is encouraged to consider taking lateral flow tests regularly.
Meanwhile local politicians have warned bins have been left “overflowing” after the Christmas period with Covid-related staff shortages in England causing rubbish collection delays.
Councillors in London, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Buckinghamshire have said bin collection services have been scaled back as workers continue to fall ill with coronavirus.