This is how many children have returned to school this term across Harrogate and North Yorkshire

The first official figures for school attendance in North Yorkshire show around 92% of pupils are returning.

Monday, 5th October 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Monday, 5th October 2020, 12:04 pm

This is a higher absence rate than the usual figure of around 5% - but it is not broken down to show whether pupils were at home because of Covid outbreaks.

Since reopening for the autumn term, more than 40 North Yorkshire schools - including nine in Harrogate - have sent students home after coronavirus cases were confirmed.

Stuart Carlton, director of children and young people’s services at North Yorkshire County Council, said despite the coronavirus challenges, school attendance remains "good" and is above the national average of 88 per cent.

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More than 40 North Yorkshire schools - including nine in Harrogate - have sent students home after coronavirus cases were confirmed.

“It is important we continue to maintain high attendance; right now children and young people urgently need to be in school, continuing their education," he said.

“Schools have effective risk assessments in place which allow them to respond swiftly to any confirmed cases of coronavirus and prevent the spread of infection."

In the run-up to the new term, the council called on parents to send their children back to school, with the assurance that safety measures have been put in place to protect them from the spread of Covid-19.

There had been speculation that some parents would keep their children at home, as well as warnings that parents could face fines for keeping them off.

Dr Lincoln Sargeant, the director of public health for North Yorkshire, previously said the risk of pupils getting seriously ill from Covid-19 is small and that parents should be more concerned about the "certainty of long-term harm" if children do not attend classes.

"Very few, if any, children or teenagers will come to long-term harm from Covid-19 due solely to attending school," he said.

The schools in Harrogate which have reported coronavirus cases include St Aidan’s High School, St John Fisher Catholic High School, Bilton Grange Primary School, Harrogate Grammar School, Harrogate Ladies’ College, Ripon Grammar School, Rossett School, Harrogate High School and Killinghall Primary School.

Mr Carlton said cases in schools have been mostly limited to one member of staff or one pupil because of strict anti-viral measures put in place.

He added: "We have high levels of confidence that schools are safe places for pupils to be and would urge any parents with concerns to contact their school, who will be happy to discuss any concerns and explain the safety measures and risk assessments in place.”

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter