CHESHIRE West and Chester Council is now "strongly advising" schools not to reopen to more pupils until June 8 at the earliest.

The Government has targeted June 1 as a potential date for Early Years, Year 1 and Year 6 children to return to school.

But in a letter to parents and carers, Mark Parkinson and David McNaught – directors of education and inclusion at the council – are recommending that schools push back any plans to reopen by at least a week.

Schools will continue to offer provision for vulnerable children and pupils of key workers.

The letter said: "As you will be aware the government have set out an ambition that schools are to reopen from 1st June.

"As a local authority, we have been consulting closely with schools and other partners about the best and safest way to reopen schools, at the earliest possible date.

"As a result of these discussions the local authority is strongly advising schools not to widen their reopening until, at the earliest, 8th June and that will, of course, be subject to any further developments in national advice and guidance.

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"Schools will, however, continue to follow national guidance in offering places to children of key workers and vulnerable children.

"We would also ask you to understand that not all schools will be able to reopen at the same time or for the same eligible year groups. This will be for a variety of reasons, such as staff availability (due to Covid-19) and the possible challenges around school buildings that may make social distancing more difficult to achieve when following the national advice and guidance.

"Your school will keep you informed as to their decision about reopening and when this will take place, and for which children. The schools have been undertaking rigorous risk assessments and the local authority will support schools with the decisions they make.

"In the meantime, we would like to thank you and our schools for their patience, understanding and hard work during these very difficult times."