Secondary schools in parts of England with high coronavirus infection rates should move to a ‘blended’ system, learning both in the classroom and at home, leading experts have warned.
Dr Terry Wrigley, from the Independent Sage group, suggested students should use learn online for around a third of the week.
But he warned that support from the government for the infrastructure required to make such a model possible had been “patchwork”.
Amid fears more areas will soon be classed as Tier 3, signaling very high levels of Covid-19 in the community, Dr Wrigley said: ‘In high infection areas, for pupils in secondary schools it’s probably very necessary to have some degree of blended learning.”
This could include pupils spending a day and a half a week learning online at home, he added.
But he warned of a lack of support, saying there had been “only a patchwork of provision for distance learning” from ministers.
Dr Wrigley said the problem was particularly acute in England because it had some of the largest secondary school classes in Western Europe.
Some secondary schools currently have pupils in ‘bubbles’ that contain hundreds of other people– their entire year group, he said.
He warned that some schools were not isolating enough students and were “pouring petrol on the flames” of infection.
The situation was “really very, very difficult to manage,” he added.
Sage has previously called on ministers to reduce the number of children in each class by allowing the use of makeshift classrooms in community centres and church halls up and down the land. But that option was dismissed by ministers this summer.
In the US many pupils are currently taught under a hybrid model, where children attend part-time, on alternating schedules.
Schools in England only re-opened fully for the first time in September, amid pressure from parents struggling to hold down jobs and look after small children full-time.