Q. On the advice of Public Health England, we recently had to close the school for two days for a deep clean following an outbreak of Norovirus. During the period before and after the school closure, attendance was poor due to the number of children who were absent due to illness. How do we evidence this when reporting to the governors?

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A.   You should clearly be able to identify from school records the point where you reported Norovirus and a decision was made to close the school.

The period of closure should be marked with the ‘Y’ code: ‘Enforced closure’. This is not a possible attendance and therefore will not impact on the school attendance figures. However, as identified prior to and following the school closure, there will be a spike in authorised absence due to the ‘I’ code used around the closed days.

Your EIMS system for recording registers has a series of reports that can be produced. One of these is a weekly breakdown of attendance, authorised absence and unauthorised absence.   This should show the impact of this outbreak compared to the trend for the year-to-date. By inputting this into an Excel document, you can produce a simple line graph that will clearly show the impact of those weeks, as shown above. 

Another way of looking at this data is to produce reports based on use of the ‘I’ code. You should be able to report on how many ‘I’ code sessions there have been to date and compare this to the same timeframe in previous years.  You can also run reports based on how many pupils have had an ‘I’ code absence and compare this to the same timeframe the year before.

This may also be a good time to review the information available to parents on your website and newsletters about exclusion times for illness, and policies around medicines and hygiene.  Public Health England guidance is available at https://bit.ly/37fWrNy

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About Author

Joanne Sierzega

Joanne Sierzega worked for almost 16 years in local authority education welfare. Since then she has established CSAWS (Central School Attendance and Welfare Services Ltd) with two partners. CSAWS comprises a team of education welfare officers who are committed to achieving better outcomes for children by securing regular attendance at school.

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