With the proliferation of Omicron, English schools have moved some courses online

Due to the rapid spread of Omicron coronavirus variants leading to widespread absenteeism, prompting the government to urge principals to adopt “more flexible” learning methods, schools in England will move some courses online.

In an open letter published on Sunday, Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi told school leaders that they should “make every effort” to ensure that face-to-face learning continues. But unlike the previous instructions, he admitted that they should consider transferring some courses online if the shortage of personnel makes it impossible to achieve.

This decision came when the rapid spread of Omicron triggered a record number of Covid-19 cases in the UK, threatening a large shortage of personnel in the education sector, as teachers infected with the virus were forced to quarantine before the spring semester. The semester starts on Tuesday.

“If labor shortages cause operational challenges… face-to-face teaching is impossible, I encourage you to consider ways to implement flexible learning methods,” Zahavi wrote.

He said this may involve deploying teachers to “maximize on-site education for as many students as possible,” while providing flexible remote teaching for other students.

The proposal was cautiously welcomed by some education unions, who had previously called for school leaders to be allowed to make local decisions on how best to keep the school open.

Paul Whiteman, secretary-general of the National Association of Principals, said that in the face of a large number of faculty and staff absentees, the “inevitable” school leaders should “believe that they will make adjustments based on their specific circumstances.”

However, some people said that the letter showed that there was not enough to keep the children in school.

Kevin Courtney, secretary-general of the National Education League, which represents teachers, said: “It seems to be just succumbing to the inevitable, rather than introducing new flexibility.”

In order to control Omicron, the government on Sunday recommended that middle school students wear masks in classrooms, a recommendation that came into effect last spring. It stated that it had ordered 7,000 air filter units for the school.

Middle school students will also be tested for the new coronavirus before returning to school, and some people will postpone the start of school for a few days.

But Courtney said the government should do more, including speeding up the vaccination of older children and ordering more air purification devices. There are nearly 25,000 schools in England.

Pepe Di’Iasio, the principal of Rotherham, said that with a few days before the start of school, school leaders were frustrated to learn about the new guidance from media reports.

He said: “We have known about Omicron and the high transmission rate for several weeks, and we didn’t develop an appropriate strategy until we learned of this through the Sunday newspaper.”

“I think everyone will try to avoid switching to online learning, but accept that if employee absenteeism is high, we may be forced to do so.”

Health Minister Edward Argar said on Sunday that he sees no reason to impose new Covid restrictions at this time, and said that if the situation worsens, it is an “absolute last resort”.

Argar told Time Radio that there is no indication in the data that further restrictions are needed. “But these data are changing every day… We have to review everything,” he said. “We need a calm, cool head.”

The minister said that given the lag between infection and hospitalization, the number of people hospitalized due to the new coronavirus may continue to rise. However, he said that, given the arrival of antiviral drugs, Britain’s position is much stronger than a year ago.

Shadow Health Minister Wes Streeting stated that the government needs to address the public’s lack of Covid testing.

“The government does need to take action on testing supplies,” Streeting said on Sunday. “And I think the Minister of Health needs to explain why he told me in the House of Commons just three weeks ago that the availability of the test is not a problem. However, it is so obvious now.”

Argar insisted that testing can be done after delivery to the pharmacy during Christmas. “The test is available. We recommend that people continue to visit the site to refresh it, and they will find that there are more vacancies available for booking delivery or picking up from pharmacies every hour,” he said.

Algar said the government will reject the call to shorten the quarantine period for people in contact with infected people from seven days to five days.

“We are correct to follow the scientific advice, but currently we have no scientific advice to cut it down,” he said.

Cabinet Office Minister Steve Barclays has ordered colleagues to develop a “strong contingency plan” to address the problem of employee absenteeism related to the coronavirus, which may disrupt government agencies including the NHS in the coming weeks And British companies.

As the increase in the number of cases has exacerbated the shortage of personnel that has plagued many departments, public sector leaders have been asked to test plans for the worst cases where labor absenteeism rates are as high as 25%.

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