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School leaders back five-day isolation as classes of 120 children cram into halls amid teacher shortage

School leaders have backed calls to cut the Covid isolation period to five days after it was revealed that classes of 120 children have crammed into sports halls amid a teacher shortage crisis.

Dame Maura Regan, chief executive officer of Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust, said she would “welcome” the move in England.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Personally, I’d welcome it, because I think the most important thing is there are many staff that actually have no symptoms, many children that have no symptoms, and I think it’s important to get staff back as quickly as possible.”

This comes after a survey by the NASUWT teaching union found that nearly half of teachers have been forced to cover for colleagues who were off work due to coronavirus as remote learning hit its highest level since lockdown.

Dame Maura told Today that “one of the biggest challenges” currently for schools is “effective supply cover”.

She added: “I think the most important thing we have to remember is that while it’s significant for all children, it’s particularly significant for those students that are actually facing exams, and many of them have had two, two and a half years, of disruption and to then have a lack of quality teaching is actually greater disruption for them.”

On Monday, Boris Johnson said ministers were considering reducing the self-isolation period from seven to five days for fully vaccinated people who test positive for Covid, with the Health Secretary reportedly backing such a move.

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