The number of state schools not fully open due to a coronavirus case — or suspected one — quadrupled in a week, latest government figures suggest.
This is a jump from one per cent, or around 160, who said they were not fully open due to a confirmed or potential Covid-19 infection on 10 September a week before.
Around three quarters of state schools responded in both weeks.
In its latest figures, the Department for Education (DfE) estimated 99.9 per cent of state schools were open — either fully or partially — on 17 September, while 94 per cent were fully open on the same date.
This is defined as when face-to-face teaching for all pupils is available for the entire school day, and when no groups have been asked to self-isolate.
The DfE figures also estimated 87 per cent of all state school pupils attended school last Thursday — a slight drop from 88 per cent the week before.
Schools in England reopened to all students in September, after months of partial closures due to coronavirus.
Speaking about the latest data, Geoff Barton from the Association of School and College Leaders said: “These figures show that the number of pupils in attendance has fallen slightly compared to the same point in the week before, while the number of schools that were not fully open due to Covid-related reasons rose from 1 per cent to 4 per cent."
“Under the circumstances of rising infection rates in the community, and severe problems with the Covid testing system, that is not at all surprising. Frankly, it is a great relief that the situation is not a lot worse."
He added: "Schools are working incredibly hard to manage this very difficult situation."
The government has encouraged parents to send their children back to school from September, with ministers saying fines could be handed out for those who do not.
Since schools were allowed to welcome back all students, some were forced to close their doors days after reopening due to Covid-19 infections, while others have told groups to stay at home.
On Tuesday, Bath and North East Somerset Council announced that East Harptree Church of England Primary School will close for 14 days following two confirmed cases of Covid-19 at the school.
Other schools have told year groups of students to self-isolate for two weeks following confirmed cases.
Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, said: “It’s encouraging to see that 99.9 per cent of schools are open, meaning millions of children and young people continue to benefit from direct interaction with their friends and teachers.
“As we would expect, this data shows a small number of pupils are self-isolating in line with public health advice, and schools, colleges and early years settings across the country continue to work tremendously hard to ensure protective measures are in place to reduce the risks of transmission."
He added: “The fact so many schools are open is testament to that hard work and, crucially, means children and young people can continue their education with minimal disruption.”
Additional reporting by Press Association