ONE in five secondary school children in Bolton were not in class in the week before half-term as the borough recorded a surge in people contracting the highly contagious Delta variant.

Bolton Council has released its own figures after national reports, based on Government data, stated a third of the town’s high schools pupils were absent due to Covid related reasons on May 27.

But regardless of the figures, the town’s education bosses have moved to reassure parents that schools are working hard to minimise disruption by easily switching to online learning.

In primary schools that figure was 14.6 per cent, lower than the figures published by the government — 21 per cent.

The government figures are based on schools submitting data, and 41 primary schools and six secondary schools failed to do that, due to forgetting or early half-term holidays.

The week before half-term Bolton recorded the highest Delta — also known as the Indian variant — infection rate in the country.

The Bolton News reported how before the half-term break school bubbles were collapsing with hundreds of children having to self-isolate at home. Some schools had more than one year group sent home.

Bolton School reported that a third of its pupils were self-isolating at one time, with the school experiencing more cases in mid-May that at any other time in the pandemic.

But schools have always remained open, and teachers move between face-to-face teaching and online.

Cllr Anne Galloway, executive cabinet member for children’s services said: “Our schools are working incredibly hard to minimise disruption to our children’s education despite the extremely high infection rates amongst young people.

“Class bubbles are kept as small as is safe to do so and online learning is continuing for those learning from home. “Schools’ risk assessment policies are being carefully followed to keep Bolton’s transmission rates as low as positive.”

Bolton’s high rates, together with those of Blackburn and Darwen, place the North West as the region with the highest rate of absence.

The South West of England had the lowest levels of Covid-19 related pupil absence of any region, with levels well below one per cent — based on Government figures — throughout the half term, compared to four per cent in the North West.

The Government said schools had “robust protective measures” to keep them open and safe