HEAD teachers have warned parents not to send their children to school unless absolutely necessary.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, urged parents to “Only leave your child at school if you have no other choice.”

He even warned key workers to try to avoid sending their children to school if possible.

He said: “I simply do not know how to say this strongly enough. As many children as possible should stay away from school.

“To do otherwise will risk the health of your family and the successful response to Covid-19. Please do not confuse Dunkirk spirit with recklessness.


“The government has asked school leaders, teachers and their support teams to remain accessible to the most vulnerable children who they believe would be in even greater difficulty without school.

"The government is also aware that some key workers involved in the provision of health care and keeping food supplies going, for example, might need a place of safety for their children as a last resort.

"But even the children of key workers should stay away if at all possible to stop the spread of the virus.

“School staff have been much depleted due to isolation. Those left working in schools are selflessly responding to the call from government and will take their place with other frontline public servants to support the national response. In doing so they are taking a risk with their own wellbeing to look after the families of others in dire need.

“My appeal to the families of key workers is: This is not business as usual. Keep your family at home if at all possible. Leave the few spaces available for those that truly have no alternative.

“My appeal to companies and other employers: Please do not interpret the key workers lists liberally for your own ends. Do not put profit over people. School places are there for the most vulnerable and to keep truly crucial operations running.”

• The coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set up to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at www.sussexgiving. org.uk/apply. To donate visit www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/sussexcrisisfund or call the team on 01273 409440 or email stephen.chamberlain@sussexgiving.org.uk.