A GREEN councillor has accused the government of “sticking their heads in the sand” over their plan for schools as the country adapts to ‘living with Covid’.

Withdean councillor Sarah Nield, who serves on Brighton and Hove City Council, said that schools are now “flying blind”, now that the regime of testing, mask-wearing and mandatory self-isolation has come to an end.

In an article for Bright Green, Cllr Nield said: “Uncontrolled transmission in schools affects us all.

“We’ve watched the graphs long enough to know: wave after wave of Covid starts in school-age children, then passes up through the age groups, through the parents, into the community where it infects the elderly and the vulnerable.”

She called on the government to implement a true plan for living with Covid, with a budget for schools to upgrade ventilation and air filtration, regular free testing, and for masks to be allowed to return whenever cases are confirmed at a school.

Cllr Nield said: “This plan isn’t living with Covid, it’s pretending it’s gone away. 

“Sticking their heads in the sand instead of working out a new, sustainable way forward for our schools, sacrificing the most vulnerable in our society and choosing self-delusion over science is no example for our government to set for our children.”

Her comments come amid concern from teaching groups about the government’s approach to Covid, with fears over a recent rise in cases.

Figures compiled by Teacher Tapp, first reported by education website Tes, showed that in a survey of 6,643 teachers at the beginning of February, one in five secondary teachers (20 per cent) said that their schools had arranged merged classes in halls or the canteen due to Covid absences.

The survey also found that almost half (48 per cent) of respondents who were senior leaders reported they had had “many problems” getting supply staff since the start of the academic year in September 2021.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We have been hearing worrying reports from schools and colleges over the last few days about rapidly increasing rates of Covid-related absence among both pupils and staff.

“The Government seems to have largely drawn a line under the pandemic and moved on but the evidence coming from our schools and colleges is that business is still very far from being back to normal.

“There is still a real problem with coronavirus in our schools and colleges that the Government must not ignore.”