HUNDREDS of schoolchildren in Herefordshire are still having time off due to coronavirus, Herefordshire Council has said.

The latest figures from Herefordshire Council showed around half of maintained schools in the county have reported Covid-related absences.

Some 54 of Herefordshire's schools and colleges submitted data to the Department of Education last Thursday (March 31), with 46 reporting Covid absences.

This means there was at least one child self-isolating due to having symptoms, or a positive test result.

Current rules are that nobody legally needs to self-isolate in England, but children who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people.

Free universal testing has ended in England, but children who test positive should avoid contact with people for three days.

At the 46 schools which reported Covid absences, there were 400 confirmed cases in pupils.

On top of that, there were 34 suspected cases.

It meant 434 pupils in Herefordshire were off school or college on Thursday due to Covid, but on October 7, that number was more than double at 899.

The data, submitted to the Department for Education, was sent in by 54 of Herefordshire's 98 maintained schools on March 31.

Herefordshire Council said 86.6 per cent of pupils on roll were attending their school or college Thursday.

Latest figures for Herefordshire, which cover the period to March 30, before free testing was ditched, show the infection rate stood at 924.0 cases per 100,000 people.

This was below the England average of 87.2 per cent on the same day.

That was above the England average of 789.3, but lower than the week before's figure of 1,055.7.

Last week, Dean Williams, headteacher at Weobley High School near Leominster, said it had been an "incredibly challenging term" with up to a quarter of teachers off on a single day.

Although pupil attendance has improved somewhat, staff absence has been very high with up to a quarter of our teachers off on some days as well as multiple support staff," he said in a letter to parents on Thursday.

"This has inevitably been disruptive and has created a great deal of cover; consequently pupils have regularly been taught by somebody other than their usual teacher.

"We have managed to avoid full or partial closure however this has only been possible by occasionally doubling or even trebling groups, increasing our budget for supply staff ten-fold (when we can source them!) and asking teachers to regularly cover other teachers' lessons."

He praised pupils for how they had coped though, and things had been improving "very recently".