Schools in Knowsley could remain closed next month despite the government’s target of getting children back into classrooms.
Boris Johnson said last week that schools could reopen “from June 1”, with children in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 the first to go back.
But Knowsley Council said its priority was making sure schools opened safely rather than quickly and it was not aiming to meet a particular deadline.
Cllr Margaret Harvey, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Our position in Knowsley is clear – schools will reopen when it is safe to do so.”
In a statement, the council said the prime minister’s statement only meant schools could open at some point after June 1, not that they had to open on that date.
The council added it would be up to individual schools when they reopened, but council officers, school staff and trade unions had been working together to come up with a plan for a phased reopening across Knowsley.
Cllr Harvey said: “We have been supporting our schools throughout the pandemic and we will continue to do so to ensure that appropriate plans are in place which ensure the safety of pupils and school staff, as well as offering reassurance to parents and carers.
“Preparations for re-opening will continue and once schools are ready to re-open, they will communicate their reopening plans directly with parents and carers.”
Knowsley’s position echoes yesterday’s joint statement by education unions, which claimed the government’s drive to reopen schools showed “a lack of understanding about the dangers of the spread of coronavirus within schools, and outwards from schools to parents, siblings and relatives, and to the wider community”.
Liverpool City Mayor Joe Anderson has also said he will resist attempts to start reopening schools from next month.
The Welsh Government has already ruled out reopening schools on June 1, while children in Scotland and Northern Ireland are unlikely to return to class before September.
But Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs yesterday that reopening schools was the “responsible” thing to do now the pandemic was past its peak and cautioned against "scaremongering".