COVID cases in Southampton schools have surged and hit the highest levels since the start of the pandemic.

Southampton City Council has revealed that a total of 385 coronavirus cases were confirmed at schools and colleges across the city in the seven days between September 27 and October 3.

This is the highest number of cases recorded at schools since the start of the pandemic, with a spike in cases since the relaxation of restrictions across the UK.

The week prior there were 259 positive confirmed cases among Southampton pupils.

There were approximately 260 cases reported across all educational settings in each of the two last weeks in September, rising by 125 cases to 385 in the most recent week up to October 3.

Government guidance states that school and college attendance is mandatory for all pupils in unless they are self-isolating.

A spokesperson from Southampton City Council told the Daily Echo: "Southampton City Council’s director of public health and head of education are working with partners to review our approach in the coming school term.

"Working collaboratively with headteachers, we will identify any additional support required in the event of a significant number of Covid-19 cases occurring within a school, balancing the need to reduce the risk of transmission with minimising the disruption to children and young people’s education.

"Some schools have already been proactive and retained the use of face coverings for secondary aged school children and staff and some as part of their contingency plans following a number of cases in their setting.

"Government guidance is that attendance continues to be mandatory for all pupils of compulsory school age in most circumstances, unless they are self-isolating.

"If parents, carers or pupils have concerns about attending, these should be discussed with the school or college."

Nationally, the number of children out of school for Covid-19 related reasons in England has increased by two thirds in a fortnight, Government figures show.

The Department for Education (DfE) estimates that 2.5 per cent of all pupils – more than 204,000 children – were not in class for reasons connected to coronavirus on Thursday last week.

This is up from 122,300 children, or 1.5 per cent of all pupils, on September 16 – a 67 per cent rise from two weeks ago.

The figures come as heads reported “a high level of disruption”, with a school leaders’ union warning that self-isolation rules are “actively contributing” to the spread of Covid-19 in schools.