CALLINGTON Primary School will remain closed to all but children of key workers and vulnerable children tomorrow (Monday), when it was due to reopen after the Christmas break.

The school says it is due to a shortage of staff.

In a letter to parents, new headteacher Antony Fugill said: "I am writing to you as soon as possible to inform you that due to staffing shortages, we are only able to open to children of key worker parents and key children. If you have accessed this provision before and wish to do so again, please email [email protected]

"I’m sorry this is the first thing I am having to write as I start as head of the school. This will be in place for a minimum of two weeks as the situation is reviewed.

"Learning for the majority of the children will be online and ready to access from 10am tomorrow morning on the home learning pages as per the last lockdown.

"I wanted to ensure you had the maximum notice possible as I know the inconvenience this will have caused.

"I can assure you that staff and I have given great thought over this and are committed to making the learning experience of the next two weeks at least, valuable to the children."

Parents across Cornwall are being urged to check with their children’s school as the debate about schools reopening continues in Government.

Primary schools are set to restart lessons this week, with secondaries opening to vulnerable children and to children of key workers only.

Cabinet Member for Children and Public Health at Cornwall Council, Councillor Sally Hawken, said: “Attending school has huge value for children for their learning and wellbeing. All teachers know this and have worked incredibly hard to make this possible since September. We all agree that the commitment for schools should be that they are the last to close and first to open.

“The dedication of school staff to children’s welfare and managing the constant change continues to be humbling. I cannot thank the school family enough.

"The level of uncertainty and change for everyone through the pandemic has been huge and takes its toll on mental health and I am concerned today that the resilience of teachers is under threat.

"It is time for Gavin Williamson and the Department for Education to acknowledge that: to stop and listen.”

She continued: “Opportunity for testing in secondary schools is very welcome but that’s no small task logistically and it is important parents know that and appreciate the challenge schools face implementing these procedures.

“Alongside that we’ve seen a bewildering array of new directives over the last week.

"Since the announcement about a staggered return, there have been several changes to expectations for Heads to work through during what I’d hoped was their opportunity to take a precious break and recharge.

“Teaching unions are calling for primary staff to support remote learning except for the children of key workers and vulnerable children for the first weeks back.

"That means many primary Heads are assessing if they will have the staff to be able to open their schools tomorrow.”

The latest data for Cornwall has shown a dramatic increase in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases and it is expected that the rate will continue to rise in the coming weeks, after the short relaxation of rules for Christmas.

The seven-day average is now 176.3 per 100k, with cases doubling in the past seven days.

Amongst school age children (0-14 years) the rate of infections has risen from 42 per 100k to 114 per 100k in seven days up to December 30.

Cllr Hawken concluded: “I support those who choose to notify of a school closure today to take stock and assess the latest public health position for Cornwall.

"It is crucial we are able to accommodate in school the children of key workers and those who are vulnerable and I’m sure schools will be looking to make that happen smoothly and as a top priority.

“The situation will be kept under constant review and the council education and public health teams will maintain contact to support schools in their decision making over the coming days.”

For more information on the return of learning, make contact with your school through the usual channels.