DOUBTS have been cast on the likelihood of children starting a phased return to school next month by teachers in Herefordshire.

In a letter sent to parents of children at Herefordshire Marches Federation of Academies, executive head Peter Box said that three out of four key conditions that needed to be met before reopening on June 1 had not yet been met.

The federation had previously said that Test Track and Trace must be in place, that the five key tests stated by the government must be met in Herefordshire, that government must release data proving it was a safe strategy, and that the R number must remain below one.

However, in today's letter, Mr Box said that only condition four has been met so far, with the effect of the easing of lockdown on the R number yet to be seen.

Mr Box said he was committed to getting children back to school, but not at the expense of the safety of their families.

The letter stated that the federation felt they would be unable safely open to pupils in the named year groups on June 1, but that they would continue to review the conditions and reopen when safe to do so.

Any reopening would remain contingent on these measures, and should Track and Trace not be provided, coronavirus case numbers would need to fall dramatically before children could return to school.

The multi-academy trust is responsible for primary academies Lord Scudamore, Sutton, Marden, Canon Pyon, St Weonards, Llangrove, Kings Caple, Pencombe and Clehonger.

Herefordshire Council said last week that the decision as to whether to reopen on June 1 would be up to each school after the Government announced schools may re-open for primary school children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, possibly followed by secondary school children in Years 10 and 12 later in the year.