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Parents opt to keep children off school amid Covid-19 Christmas concerns

School absences due to Covid-19 are rising in Tayside and Fife.
School absences due to Covid-19 are rising in Tayside and Fife.

Parents are opting to keep their children off school for the remainder of the term to protect the Christmas festivities from Covid-19.

Covid-19 has once again started to impact on school children as new figures show the number of pupils missing school because of the virus soared in the last week.

That includes those who have tested positive for the virus and those who are self-isolating after coming into contact with a positive case.

Positive cases of Covid-19, and their household, must isolate for 10 days, which would mean the festive period would be ruined for many families.

And data has also revealed an increase in parents choosing to keep their children off school as a precaution contrary to public health guidance.

As of December 14 – the latest date available from Scottish Government statistics – 401 pupils in Tayside and Fife were absent from school for this reason.

That is 81 Angus pupils, 33 in Dundee, 170 in Fife and 117 in Perth and Kinross.

However figures remain low in comparison to December 14, 2020, where thousands of children were kept off school over coronavirus fears.

In the days that followed in December 2020, parents keeping their children off over Covid-19 fears became the main reason for school absences.

However the country was at a different stage of controlling the virus then – with no vaccination roll out and positive cases rapidly increasing.

Schools subsequently closed for a prolonged break after the Christmas holidays and only reopened partially in March 2021.

Parents across the four local authorities were divided on the matter, however, in our poll, almost half (46.6%) of respondents told us they were keeping their children off school over concerns about isolating and Christmas.

Courier reader Louise Barnes is among the parents opting to keep her children off school.

She said: “I’m keeping mine off. Both of their classes have [more than] three kids off with Covid.”

Leanne Soutar, agreed. She said: [I’m keeping my son off. He was in today but [a] few in his year have tested positive so not chancing it.”

Sharron Swan disagreed, saying both of her children had already missed too much school.

The children have missed too much school as it is.”

Sharron Swan

She said: “The children have missed too much school as it is and also interaction with other children throughout all this.

“We are lucky that their school Christmas parties are still going ahead tomorrow within their school classes.

“I will not have my kids miss anything more than they have done.”

More than a third (34.6%) of poll respondents said their children would be attending school as normal for the final week of term.

Schools will close on Wednesday for the festive break.

They are scheduled to reopen in early January however Fife Council’s education director Carrie Lindsay has already warned parents that remote learning may be necessary if whole classes or schools have to isolate.

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