A headteacher has sparked a rebellion against the government by insisting parents can keep their children at home – just as Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted it was safe for children to return to the classrooms.
Debate has raged in recent days over the reopening of schools following the Christmas holidays in the wake of increasing Covid-19 infections, hospitalisations and deaths.
Schools have expressed concerns over the safety of staff, children, and families – with some institutions signalling they will keep their school gates firmly shut, despite being on the list of those set to reopen on Monday morning.
One headteacher has hit out at plans for schools to reopen and says she thinks the risks are too great to allow a return to classes.
Gil Denham is head of Marish Academy Trust which runs two primary schools in Slough – and she has warned parents she can’t guarantee pupils or staff would be safe from Covid if schools reopen.
In a letter to parents, shared by Berkshire Live, she 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.
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"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."
She continued: "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."
On Sunday morning, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during an appearance on The Andrew Marr Show that parents should take their kids to school on Monday.
He 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."
There are fears that the futures of an entire generation are being damaged due to the disruption the Covid-19 pandemic is causing to education.
Last year there was fiasco across the UK as schools, teachers and education bodies struggled to agree on how grades should be awarded following the cancellation of exams.
While exams for the 2021 season are already in doubt as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on society.
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