'We had just 36 hours' notice that our school was closing'

KCC leader Roger Gough

Elsewhere in the district, Hawes Primary School has delayed its reopening until Thursday following a number of Covid-19 cases in the town.

"I would like to make it clear that this decision is not linked to unsafe practices at RMS".

Schools have already been contacting parents directly if they do not intend to open as usual tomorrow, with parents from Hungerford Primary School reporting that it will remain closed to face-to-face teaching tomorrow.

Stewart Young, leader of the council in the rural county - which is one of the areas outside London and the South East hardest hit by the variant, said the Government had responded that schools should open as planned.

Teachers and parents have shared their anxieties about the Government's decision to reopen most of England's primary schools on January 5.

Similarly, Essex County Council said it was seeking "urgent clarity" from the Government on the position of reopening schools in north Essex amid rising infection rates.

Secondary schools in England will have a staggered return, with those taking exams this year resuming in-person teaching on January 11 and other year groups on January 18. Teachers from Kempsey Primary School in Worcestershire said they were anxious about the impact of the fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus in schools where children do not always observe social distancing.

Many of those who've had to remain closed for the first day of term in Norfolk have said decisions have been made due to school's being unable to guarantee pupil's safety due to staff shortages, and uncertainty around staffing.

"We're just being left apprehensive about what to do and the impact this has on us as working parents, and our children as well who were looking forward to going back to school", she said.

"Special or pupil referral service schools have the option of agreeing with parents that individual pupils can stay at home during the week beginning January 4, but with the aim should be that all pupils in special schools, or Alternative Provision, are back in school by the second week of term".

Speaking at a media briefing last night, the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said current Covid-19 transmission levels overall are "very, very high".

"We understand this is a fast-moving and challenging situation", a council spokeswoman said.

"Schools will continue to implement appropriate safety measures to help mitigate the risk of transmission".

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