More than one million children in England were off school last week due to coronavirus-related reasons, official figures show.
It is a new record high since schools reopened in March amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data released by the Department for Education shows around 14.3% of all pupils in state-funded schools were absent from class on 15 July – a total of 1.05 million.
This is up from 11.2% on 8 July and 8.5% on 1 July.
Of these, 773,700 pupils were self-isolating due to possible contact with a case of coronavirus from inside school, while 160,300 pupils after possibly coming into contact with a COVID-19 case outside school.
A total of 47,200 pupils had a confirmed case of coronavirus, and 34,800 pupils were absent as a result of COVID school closures.
Around 34,500 pupils had a suspected case of coronavirus, the data showed.
Meanwhile, an estimated 6.6% of teachers and school leaders were absent due to COVID on 15 July, an increase from 8 July (5.4%) and 1 July (4.2%).
For teaching assistants and other staff, the proportion was estimated to be 6.4% on 15 July, up from 5.2% on 8 July and 3.9% on 1 July.
DfE figures also show that almost one in four pupils were absent from state-funded schools in England on 15 July.
This includes all absences, not just those due to COVID.
Total pupil attendance was 76.7% on 15 July, compared with 80.4% on 8 July and 83.4% on 1 July.
In primary schools, pupil attendance was 82.8% on 15 July, while for secondary schools it was 67.3%.
Reacting to the figures, Labour’s shadow education secretary Kate Green said: “The Conservatives have abandoned the nation’s children with no action taken to turn the tide on rising cases in schools.
“Parents and schools have been crying out for help, but the Conservatives have washed their hands of their responsibility to keep children learning.
“The government must take action to keep children learning for the last week of term, and ensure that by September schools have the support they need to avoid further disruption to children’s education.”
MP Munira Wilson, health spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, said the country was “in the midst of an education crisis which is worsening by the day”.
“The prime minister needs to act today on this if schools are to return in autumn,” she said.
“He must act without delay to protect millions of children’s mental health and wellbeing. As he told the country last night – If not now, then when?”
Earlier this month, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced the school bubble system is being scrapped in England and only those who test positive for COVID-19 will have to self-isolate.
From 16 August pupils will no longer have to self-isolate if they are a close contact of someone who tests positive.
Schools will also no longer need to stagger start and finish times, and children who are contacted by Track and Trace as being a contact of someone who has tested positive will be advised to take a PCR test.