Latest figures from council across Essex have revealed thousands of pupils across the county are currently self-isolating. 

Headteachers have either sent home the infected individual and class bubble, and others have sent home entire year groups in a bid to prevent the virus spreading.

Essex County Council says approximately 5,674 school pupils are in isolation. 

And as of 3pm yesterday 2,183 pupils were self-isolating in Southend.

This inlcudes pupils from early years to university. 

An Essex County Council spokesperson, said: “Approximately 5,674 school pupils are self-isolating in the ECC area, this figure also includes academies and colleges.”

It comes as a handful of schools across the county confirmed they had pupils who were isolating. 

Yesterday Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs schoolchildren will no longer need to self-isolate if they are in close contact of someone who tests positive for Covid from August 16.

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His comments came after coronavirus-linked pupil absence in schools hit a record high since classes fully returned in March.

According to the latest data available, Essex pupils missed more than 870,000 days of face-to-face teaching in the autumn term after having to self-isolate or shield due to Covid.

Schools reopened to all year groups from September, with students sent home in bubbles to self-isolate when coronavirus cases were detected.

That was an absence rate of 6.9 per cent, and equivalent to roughly five days per pupil.

Current rules state that children have to self-isolate for ten days if another pupil in their bubble - which can be an entire year group at secondary school - tests positive for coronavirus.

In addition to ending bubbles, Mr Williamson said it will “not be necessary to stagger start and finish times” at schools.

He told the Commons: “We recognise the system of bubbles and isolation is causing disruption to many children’s education.

“That is why we’ll be ending bubbles and transferring contact tracing to the NHS Test and Trace system for early years settings, schools and colleges.”