CHESHIRE West and Chester Council says it will support schools in making their own decision on whether it is safe to reopen to more pupils next month.

The authority is working with schools across the borough to develop plans for the possible inclusion of Early Years, Year 1 and Year 6 children from June 1.

The council says it is providing risk assessment and public health advice, alongside Government guidelines, to assist schools in coming to the 'right decision for their communities', adding that it will support headteachers’ judgements.

One school that will not be opening up to more children from June 1 is Woodlands Primary School in Ellesmere Port, whose headteacher Victoria Carr revealed yesterday that 'our governors have made the decision to put the safety of children and staff first and only open to key worker children until further notice'.

Councillor Bob Cernik, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: "I understand in these difficult times that many people feel 1 June is just too soon to expand the number of children in attendance at school.

"This is for a variety of reasons including variations in infection rates across the country; school geography/layout; safe school transport availability; the ability to maintain social distancing with youngsters; staff availability and staff logistics.

"That is why we have sent out risk assessment information to complement the work already undertaken by headteachers and governors to assist their decision on whether or not to expand the school cohort from 1 June.

"In some cases, I understand this may not be possible. I would like to assure all parents and pupils, headteachers, governing bodies, and teaching staff that your own school's individual risk assessments and national guidance will be supported by the council. Your safety and wellbeing comes before any other consideration."

The Department for Education (DfE) recently announced that some year groups in England may be able to return to school provided that the Government's five key tests are met over the next two weeks.

Cheshire West and Chester Council has been working with local Headteacher Associations to plan for a phased reopening of schools, alongside the existing arrangements where care has been provided for children of keyworkers since schools officially closed as education settings on March 23.

Schools will communicate directly with parents, carers and other stakeholders of their decision and what the plan will be for their school.

Secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges have been asked by the Government to offer some face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of Year 10 and Year 12 students who are due to take key exams next year, alongside the full-time provision they are offering to priority groups.