UNION bosses are calling for schools to heed scientific advice and delay reopening schools for at least a fortnight.

A group of leading scientists has warned that reopening schools on June 1 would be too early for students to return to classrooms safely.

The ‘Independent Sage’ committee, chaired by former chief scientific adviser Sir David King, has carried out new modelling showing the risk of coronavirus to children going back to school.

The modelling shows that there is a 4.21% chance that children returning on June 1 will be exposed to a contagious classmate — this goes down to 2.09% if schools reopen on June 15.

The committee says the later reopening date would allow for more time for an effective “test, trace and isolate” programme to be established.

UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “This is the evidence school staff and parents have been waiting for.

“Not only do these scientists say the Government’s plans for schools in England are premature, they also suggest any risks to children would be halved by waiting a fortnight.

“Ministers need to heed these concerns, stop doggedly pushing schools to meet the arbitrary June 1 deadline, and ensure proper tracking and tracing is up and running first.

“There are real concerns the government is gambling with the safety of pupils, staff and the wider community.

“It makes no sense for ministers to push schools to open more widely in England, while other parts of the UK take a more considered approach.

“It’s time ministers took a step back and delayed any moves to increase the number of pupils in schools until it’s safer to do so.”

Herefordshire Council leaders said last week that the decision on whether schools re-open in June will be up to each school.

The council says it is working with schools, colleges and early years settings for the potential re-opening of schools to allow more children in a safe classroom.