Thousands of north and north east children have been absent because of Covid, with some areas reaching record highs.
In the past week, Highland, Aberdeenshire, Shetland and Orkney all reached records for the percentage of pupils absent due to Covid-19 sickness or isolation.
That’s since tracking started in August of 2020.
And approximately 5,400 pupils in the north and north east are currently out of school with a Covid-19 test or are self-isolating, according to data from Public Health Scotland.
What are the latest numbers?
Using statistics from Public Health Scotland, the Press and Journal tracks the percentage of Covid-19 related absences in each local authority. The most recent statistics are for Sept 7.
Argyll and Bute currently has the largest percentage of absences at 8.1%, though that is down slightly from last week’s 8.3%.
Next is Highland with 7.3%, Aberdeenshire with 4.7%, Aberdeen City with 4.5%. Shetland’s most recent count is 3.5% on Sept 7, but there was a peak in the region at over 5% the day before.
Moray, Orkney and the Western Isles are all below 3%.
Absences in the mainland council have climbed steadily since the start of the year. But small pupil rolls in the islands paint a more sporadic picture.
Covid-19 cluster at Stromness drives absences
On Wednesday night, Orkney Islands Council and NHS Orkney Public Health released a joint statement about a West Mainland outbreak involving “several school children” at Stromness Academy.
The school sent parents a letter detailing the situation.
“The school remains open, however, the nine who have been identified as PCR positive up to Wednesday afternoon are isolating and PCR testing of contacts is underway.
“So far 47 people are self-isolating because they are contacts of the COVID-positive cases.”
NHS Orkney consultant Sara Lewis said the cluster was a natural result of eased community restrictions.
Highland schools impacted by Covid-19 absences
Milton of Leys Primary School recently told parents that both P5/6 and P7B classes began isolating on Sept 6.
Then, on Sept 6, the school sent a letter to parents of P2 and P7A pupils. It said they would also need to self-isolate and take a PCR test.
Two of the school’s three nursery rooms also closed temporarily this week and are now operating on limited hours.
More recently, Dingwall Academy closed at lunchtime Wednesday because of a “significant number” of Covid-19 cases. It reopened the next morning.
The rise in absences comes just after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that she expects a decision on vaccines for 12-15 year-olds “within days.”
Stay on top of the latest regional numbers with the Press and Journal’s Covid-19 trackers.