Lancashire County Council’s Director of Public Health, Dr Sakthi Karunanithi (pictured) has advised that Reception, Year One and Year Six pupils should NOT return to school because, in his professional view, two of the government’s five coronavirus tests are not currently being met in our county.  His guidance, which also applies to Early Years settings such as nurseries and childminders, will be reviewed again on June 15th.

Dr Karunanithi said: ‘I have carefully considered all of the information and data and, for now, my advice remains unchanged. Although there are significantly fewer numbers of cases currently, I am concerned about the high level of infections in the county when compared with others parts of England. The death rates are not sustainably decreasing in the county, and reports that the R value is above 1 in the North West should be an early warning sign. It is important to stress that the R value is only one part of the overall picture, it appears to be rising in most parts of Lancashire.

We still need better information sharing from national colleagues to help us unlock a successful test and track programme, although agencies are working well locally.

I have carefully considered all of the information and data and, for now, my advice remains unchanged. Although there are significantly fewer numbers of cases currently, I am concerned about the high level of infections in the county when compared with others parts of England.’

The Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, Lancashire County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, agreed: ‘Everyone wants to see children back in school as soon as it is safe for this to happen and, although we are seeing some progress, we must support the professional judgement of our public health experts. Throughout this crisis our schools have been open to the children of key workers and vulnerable children and have also done a fantastic job in keeping in contact with parents and pupils and providing high quality online learning tools.’

However, it is important to note that the decision whether or not to admit more pupils to a schools is made by the Headteachers, in consultation with the Governing Body of the school, taking into account their individual circumstances.