A headteacher in Kent has warned parents in a letter that social distancing in primary schools is impossible.
Howard Fisher, head of St George’s Church of England Primary School in Sheerness, said he would prefer that pupils retake the year than die from coronavirus.
The letter, dated May 11, has since been posted on Facebook and shared more than 15,000 times
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this week he expected early years, Reception and Year 1 children, to go back to school from the start of June
But Mr Fisher criticised the Prime Minister’s announcement, saying he had heard “nothing that would put his mind at rest” about sending primary school children back to classrooms.
The headteacher told parents and guardians that over his 15 years of leadership he has learnt that expecting the “worst-case scenario” and being truthful has served him best.
“We have no plans sent from the government before the announcement last night,” he wrote.
“No doubt they will arrive this week suggesting social distancing, less pupils in school, splitting them up, staggered lunches and drop-offs, etc.”
But Mr Fisher said such measures would not work in a school.
“I can be truthful here and categorically tell you there is no such thing as social distancing in a school; it does not exist and would never exist,” he continued.
“The reason childhood illnesses spread in a school is, surprise, surprise, we are all in contact with each other.
“I can put two children in opposite classrooms and they will still get chickenpox because that’s how it is in a school.
“This virus we are led to believe is a super spreader.”
The Government has since published a report of how schools can function from the start of next month at the earliest.
It encourages staggered break times, drop-offs and pick ups, and reducing numbers in classrooms, as Mr Fisher predicted.
It also asks teachers to encourage regular and thorough hand washing, and for cleaning regimes to be intensified.
Parents who decide not to send their child into school due to Covid-19 fears will not be fined, it also emerged.
Mr Fisher wrote that he wanted schools to return to normal, but had to be realistic about the risks.
“Do I want the staff and the children back; of course,” he said. “Are you at the end of your tether at home; of course you are.
“However, I am not going to sit here and write to you to say we can achieve social distancing in a school.
“We can always make things safer, we could perhaps reduce slightly the risk, but as soon as you open the school as far as my many years can tell you, the risk will be there.
“So that leaves us all in a quandary, doesn’t it? How long can we go on like this for? Unfortunately, I heard no answers last night, I heard no solutions.
“I heard that it is ok to put our youngest children back in a school and our oldest. I heard nothing that would put my mind at rest.
“There will be some of you that say, ‘let’s just get on with it,’ I respect that, but get on with what?
“There is not a reliable test, a vaccine, an idea about what to do next, there is just the possibility that things will be ok; that’s all we have at the moment and ‘ok’ is not good enough when it comes to the precious gift that is your child.”
The Government says it has chosen to open schools at this time because scientific evidence shows it is right.
It says there is “high scientific confidence” that children of all ages have fewer symptoms than adults if they contract coronavirus.
It also says there is “moderately high scientific confidence” that younger children are less likely to become unwell if they have the virus.
Evidence also suggests that limiting the number of children returning to school, and then gradually increasing the number of children, could reduce the rate of transmission.