Published: 11:07, 15 May 2020
| Updated: 11:34, 15 May 2020
A trust boss has warned parents they could face having to home school their children for up to a year until a vaccine for coronavirus is found.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement last Sunday that he hopes schools can reopen for certain ages on June 1.
A letter to parents from Warren Wood Primary Academy, in Arethusa Road, Rochester, which is part of the Skills for Life Trust, predicted the "new normal" could see pupils being taught in school and at home.
Head teacher Louise Hardie, who wrote the letter to parents, said: "Going forward, if we were to predict what might happen over the next year, quite possibly the 'new normal’ may well need to engage school pupils in both school and home learning because a vaccine is unlikely to be found for around one year.
"It is therefore important that we really analyse how well we are doing at the moment both with the supply of work to the pupils and giving feedback afterwards. As ever, your views are really important and we should have."
Mrs Hardie explained the CEO and chairman of the academy's Trust, which has five schools in the county, will not reopen for any children except for those of key workers "until it can ensured pupils, parents and members of staff can safely come into school".
She added: "This situation will of course be constantly reviewed by the Trust in the light of improved government advice, access to more cleaning material and protective clothing etc. and following the ongoing meetings between government officials and teaching unions. We will of course keep you updated every step of the way."
The letter comes as the government faces continued criticism from head teachers and unions about the possible reopening of schools across the country next month.
A meeting between education unions and the chief medical officer and other experts to discuss the Prime Minister's push to reopen schools is scheduled to happen tomorrow.
The debate about schools and safety was prompted by the government’s decision to announce a phased reopening from the start of next month in England.
There are no plans yet to follow suit in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and teachers’ unions have expressed fears that the move would be too soon due to the risks of infection from coronavirus.
But education secretary Gavin Williamson has defended the approach, saying he arranged Friday’s meeting to brief teachers’ representatives on “the scientific advice underpinning our approach”.
Mr Williamson said if the scientists said a “limited number” of children could be sent back to school, it was his duty to allow this to happen.