More than one in 10 secondary school students and over a third of school staff who have had COVID-19 have suffered ongoing symptoms, new research has found.
Staff and pupils commonly reported weakness and tiredness, while staff were more likely to experience shortness of breath, according to a small study of schools in England.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) estimates that 35.7% of staff and 12.3% of students, who previously tested positive for COVID-19, reported experiencing ongoing symptoms more than a month after contracting the virus.
Around 15.5% of staff and 9.4% of pupils said their ability to carry out daily tasks had been significantly reduced.
The School Infection Study, conducted by Public Health England, the ONS and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, surveyed 1,658 secondary school staff and 3,459 pupils between 2 July and 26 July.
Of those 890 (17.5%) people were identified as previously having coronavirus but the ONS stressed the data was not representative of all schools in England.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “It is pleasing to note that, despite suffering ongoing and debilitating symptoms, more than half of the staff and young people who responded to the survey had returned to the classroom within four weeks of initially testing positive.
“We obviously have concerns about the number of staff reporting that their ability to perform their normal day-to-day duties had been affected by ongoing coronavirus symptoms such as tiredness and shortness of breath.
“These findings again reinforce the importance of the COVID vaccination programme, including 12 to 15-year-olds, in helping to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in schools and colleges.”
Children aged aged 12-15 were invited to have their first dose of the vaccine earlier this month and a study from King’s College found adults who are fully vaccinated are 47% less likely to have long COVID should they contract the virus.