With mass testing of schoolchildren happening every week – and the fact that those testing positive and their contacts are required to self-isolate – it is not surprising that more than 200,000 children were at home isolating at the end of last week, according to official estimates. MailOnline has the details.
More than nine in 10 pupils attended schools in England last week – but a growing number of children were self-isolating at home due to possible contact with COVID-19 cases, Government figures show.
Attendance in state schools last week was the highest it has been at any point during the pandemic, the Department for Education (DfE) analysis shows.
But the data suggests that 169,000 pupils were out of class and self-isolating on Thursday last week due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus.
The DfE estimates that approximately 2% of all state school pupils on roll – up to 201,000 children – did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on March 18th, up from 1% on March 11th.
This includes 127,000 pupils who have been self-isolating due to a potential contact with a COVID-19 case from inside the educational setting, and a further 42,000 pupils who were self-isolating due to a possible contact outside of school.
Meanwhile, 21,000 pupils were absent because they suspected they had COVID-19, 7,000 were off after testing positive for COVID-19, and 4,000 were absent as their school was closed due to Covid-19 reasons.
Secondary schools in England were given flexibility to stagger the return of their pupils between March 8th and 12th as these students were being asked to take voluntary COVID-19 tests on site as part of their return.
Overall, attendance in state schools was 91% on March 18th, up from 89% on March 11th – when some secondary schools were still phasing in the return of pupils due to the logistics of mass testing.
Around 89% of secondary school pupils were in class on March 18th – a similar proportion to the start of the second week of schools reopening in England.
But attendance in primary schools fell to 93% on Thursday last week from 95% the previous week, the figures show.
Perhaps most shocking is that 200,000+ were self-isolating last week even though just 0.067% of the millions of tests carried out came back positive. Given that this is below the estimated false positive rate of the lateral flow tests of 0.32% (the FPR can differ by age group and is thought to be lower in younger people), this suggests almost all of the positives are not real infections, or at least not contagious.
The Government’s refusal to allow confirmatory testing, either by PCR or by a second lateral flow test, prevents many of these false positives being identified and the needless harm of self-isolation being avoided.
If the Government is going to insist on continuing the pandemic-perpetuating practice of mass testing, the least it can do is allow the escape route of a second test for the victims of the imperfect tests.
The Mail report is worth reading in full.