A leading head teacher has told parents they should not send their kids back to school on Monday.
The executive head teacher of the top-performing primary school told parents she would keep her own children at home.
Marish Academy Trust head Gill Denham warned that she cannot guarantee pupils will not be exposed to the virus, reports Berkshire Live.
The trust runs Marish and Willow primary schools in Slough made the comments on the eve of schools reopening tomorrow.
Slough has one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in the country.
The Government is under increasing pressure to keep them closed to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Slough Borough Council and teaching union representatives have been lobbying the Department for Education since Wednesday over their “dismay” at education secretary Gavin Williamson’s announcement that schools in the area would be reopening on Monday.
Yet those warnings of the potential risks to teachers and pupils in an area where the infection rate is 781.1 cases per 100,000 people – and akin to London boroughs – has so far not been heeded.
The Government has been accused of creating “chaos” with the National Education Union (NEU) – telling teachers it was not safe for them to return to the classroom.
In a letter to parents, Mrs Denham wrote: “Like many of you the leadership of Marish Academy Trust are surprised that Slough schools have not been included within the contingency plan which mandates the closure”.
“Neither I, or any other school leader in Slough can guarantee that pupils or staff will not be exposed to the virus in school or on the way to or from school, when our experience has already shown us that Covid-19 can easily spread through a community,” she wrote.
“It is a question of how long before we have multiple cases and bubble and whole school closure, rather than whether we will get any. Already we have had to make difficult choices on a weekly basis about children and staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable.”
The trust had to shut down both schools a week earlier than planned for the Christmas holidays as a surge in cases left “so many staff members absent” meaning it was “no longer safe to operate”.
And with pupils due to return tomorrow there is growing confusion and concern among school leaders as to whether they will be able to reopen, with Mrs Denham giving parents the green light to keep their children off school, if they felt it was necessary, and switch to online learning.
“As a parent and grandparent myself, if I feel that the risk of my child or someone else in my family contracting Covid-19 is too high, if they attend school from Monday, I would keep them at home,” she wrote.
“It may be that this is the decision some of you come to for your own families. Rest assured, online learning will be provided for all those pupils who do not attend in person.
“Marish and Willow schools will remain open for the children of key workers, those with vulnerabilities or any pupils whose parents want them to attend.
“Ordinarily, Marish Academy Trust prides itself on having high pupil attendance, but in these extraordinary circumstances, we will not be recommending fines or any action is taken against any parent who does not send their child into school during January 2021.”
In a tweet to his constituents and 72,000 followers, Slough MP Tan Dhesi said many parents had contacted him with concerns about schools reopening.
He said it was a Government decision but he had discussed the issue with Slough Council leadership, which was consulting with local schools on their views.
“Slough Council have reached out to schools to ascertain views and we’ll take steps accordingly.”
Boris Johnson has so far refused to yield to growing pressure saying he has “no doubt” that schools are safe and parents should send primary-age kids back to the classroom.
Speaking on Andrew Marr’s BBC politics show, the PM said: “Schools are safe. It is very, very important to stress that.
“The risk to kids, to young people is really very, very small indeed.
“The risk to staff is very small.”
Yet the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics, from December 12 to December 18, revealed the percentage testing positive has continued to increase in primary and secondary school-age children and in young adults.
Secondary school-age children continue to have the highest percentage testing positive.