SIX hundred schoolchildren are self-isolating due to coronavirus across Bury, according to a teaching union.

Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union has made the claim in a letter to Schools Minister Nick Gibb.

The union leader says local authorities across the country - including in the north west - are struggling to cope with the demand for tests from pupils and school staff.

The Bury Times has reported how at least two high schools, Bury CE and St Gabriel's RC, and five primary schools, Woodbank, Lowercroft, Heaton Park, St Bernadette's and Holly Mount, had isolated one or more years groups because of coronavirus.

­Dr Roach says schools are struggling to cope with a lack of Covid-19 tests for pupils and staff as the situation is becoming "increasingly out of control".

He has called on the Government to prioritise the education sector for the allocation of tests in light of the challenges.

In a letter to the schools minister, Dr Roach said pupils who have been sent home with symptoms are "facing uncertainty" about when or where they will be able to access a test.

He warned that the delays in testing have meant some students and staff who are part of a "bubble" within a school are not being isolated even where there are multiple suspected cases.

"This is putting at risk the health and safety of others within the school and within the local community," Dr Roach said.

Schools have been hit with Covid-19 cases since it became compulsory for pupils to return.

Some have closed their doors days after reopening while others have told whole year groups and classes to self-isolate for two weeks following confirmed cases.

NASUWT members are "expressing serious concerns about the failure" of the testing system and the impact on schools, the letter to Mr Gibb says.

Dr Roach said: "In particular, areas where additional local restrictions have been introduced due to the increase in the R-number are now unable to cope with demand for tests.

"Teachers, support staff and children and young people are unable to access tests where they have Covid-19 symptoms.

"Employers are struggling to deal with the implications and consequences."