THOUSANDS of school staff and pupils were forced to self-isolate due to positive cases of coronavirus in the first half term of 2021.

Lists kept by local authorities reveal 73 instances of self-isolation in schools across BCP and the eastern area of Dorset between January 4 and February 14.

Throughout the period schools were closed to the majority of pupils but were open to vulnerable children and those of key workers.

Most schools saw more pupils in class than during the first lockdown last year.

The increase is believed to be due to changes in the vulnerable children category, where those without access to adequate IT equipment are now included.

Listed: The schools affected by coronavirus in January and February

Schools will re-open to pupils in those categories on Monday but may be expected to welcome back more children from March 8.

Prime Minster Boris Johnson is set to announce a path out of lockdown on Monday February 22 and he is expected to put the return of children to the classroom at the top of the list.

Schools across the board were affected in Dorset including infant, primary, junior, first and secondary schools.

Several schools were forced to moving to online learning only, including some who educate young people with special educational needs.