A MUM has admitted her 10-year-old son is scared about going back to school during the coronavirus pandemic, and fears lives will be put at risk.

The Government has targeted a date of June 1 for reopening classrooms for pupils in nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 6, as part one of a staged return to full-time education.

The move is based on scientific and medical advice, and is dependent on the coronavirus transmission rate remaining at a level judged to be acceptable.

But parents, teachers, and teaching unions have claimed that the scheduled return date is too soon, and pressure is growing on ministers to reconsider their plans.

Ten-year-old Christopher Varty is a Year 6 pupil at St Joseph’s Middle School in Hexham.

“Christopher is scared,” said his mum Karen. “He is only 10, and he shouldn’t have to feel this way.

“You can’t expect children, who are excited about being reunited with their friends, to always think about keeping two metres apart from each other. Children can be carriers and take the virus back into their homes.

“When I told Christopher about the possibility of going back on June 1, he said ‘great – does that mean there is no more coronavirus to worry about?’

“I couldn’t give him that assurance, and he was shocked, asking why schools were opening when it’s not safe?"

There is currently no obligation on parents to return their children to school on June 1, and fines will not be handed out to families who choose not to comply.

But Miss Vardy added: “The government is shifting the responsibility on to families to make a decision. If they want children back at school, we have to know whether it is safe or not. They are much more informed than we are. They are playing with my family’s lives.”

Teaching unions have also piled pressure on the Government over the June 1 plan.

Maggie Coombe, Northumberland branch secretary for the National Education Union, said: “All teachers are keen to open schools, but in only a controlled and safe way. Opening to three whole year groups, with so little preparation time, is putting huge strain on all the staff, teachers, cleaners, support assistants and head teachers.”

One local teacher, who did not wish to be named, said: “I am anxious about returning to work. There is no scientific evidence that children do not transmit the virus and pass it on to their families, teachers, and other school staff.

“There has also been a lack of interaction with unions, and I think reopening schools should be the last thing the government does right now.”

Education chiefs at Northumberland County Council said they were awaiting further guidance from the Government.

Coun. Wayne Daley, the council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We will be working closely with schools in the planning of any targeted reopening and will do everything we can to support children and their families.”