SCHOOL attendance has been very positive on the Isle of Wight — but face masks should be reinstated to keep up the good work.

That is the view of Peter Shreeve, assistant district secretary of the National Education Union, who said 'caution should remain the watch word' in the face of the new Delta variant.

He said: "Isle of Wight school attendance figures look remarkably positive for the week before half-term with 96 per cent of primary pupils, 90 per cent of secondary students and 92 per cent of special school students attending.

"Isle of Wight school attendance is higher than almost all local authorities in England — in the top seven of all local authorities in each sector, albeit jointly in some cases.

"We should be proud of the efforts being made by all concerned to get back to the educational normal.

“However, we should recall how rapid the situation can deteriorate and be aware of challenges hovering in other areas.

“Attendance figures for the week before half-term show troubling levels of Covid-related absence among both pupils and staff in areas affected by the new Delta variant of Covid-19.

"In Bolton, almost a third of secondary pupils and over a fifth of primary pupils were absent for Covid-related reasons on May 27. And eight per cent of teachers and support staff were absent for Covid-related reasons on the same date.

"Figures in other variant-hit authorities like Blackburn with Darwen were lower, but still well above the national averages.

"These figures are deeply concerning for the communities concerned and also provide a warning for the Island about the potential spread of Covid in schools for the rest of the academic year, and the resulting disruption to education if the Government does not get a grip on the situation.

"Numbers have been pleasingly low in Island schools in the week before half-term with less than one per cent of staff or students absent due to Covid-19 reasons.

"But we should not remain complacent and remember we do not exist in a vacuum. To keep face-to-face learning on a sustainable footing, Government must take the rising secondary school case numbers seriously.

"The requirement for staff and students to wear face coverings should be reinstated, and the encouragement for pupil testing must be kept up. Caution should remain the watch word."