Swindon Borough Council has been supporting 70 schools and nurseries as well as care homes due to high absence rates from Covid.

There have been 893 Covid cases in schools in the last seven days.

It comes as national data shows that one in 12 teachers were absent during the first week of the school term after the Christmas break.

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said he is making contingency plans for staff absence.

 Steve Maddern, director of public health for SBC, said the local health team is offering support to the establishments with higher Covid rates but is not intervening at this time.

Mr Maddern said: “There is an anxiety about whether we have to become heavy-handed but we are not at this moment.

“Schools seem to be in a much better place and feel more comfortable with how they’re dealing with Covid than in the earlier waves but we continue to offer support and advice.

“Obviously, if we are aware of a significant impact on schools, then we would support additional intervention if needed.

“There are additional measures we can look to include whether that will be closing classrooms or introducing bubbling.

“If schools are reaching pressures around operation, so if its the staff that are off more than the children, then the education team would help and support schools in how they manage staying open as much as possible.

“The last thing we would want to do is close a school.”

Swindon’s case rate has dropped this week to 1,601.3 per 100,000 compared to 1, 951.7 last week.

The local case rate is higher than the regional and national average, 1, 185.3 per 100,000 and 1,584.4 per 100,000 respectively.

Over the last seven days, eight people have died within 28 days of a Covid positive status.

There were 64 inpatients with Covid at Great Western Hospitals on Thursday.

In all 22,847 people in Swindon are still unvaccinated and 35,339 people are eligible for the booster but haven’t yet taken up the offer.

Even though the case numbers are dropping, the health boss warned that Covid levels are still “incredibly high”.

He added: “It is likely we will see hospital cases rise after the Christmas and New Year mixing in the next week.

The case rates do seem to be decreasing which is encouraging but it’s slightly too early days to call yet.”