Plans to re-open schools as soon as June 1 are in tatters after teaching unions expressed fears over the safety of staff and pupils from coronavirus.
A joint statement issued by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), signed by six other unions, set out "key tests" that should be met before children can return to school.
Government sources had briefed the national media that ministers hoped for June re-openings.
But union officials said in the letter, sent to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, that a return before the "full rollout" of the Government's planned test, trace and isolate policy would be "completely unviable" and risk increased infections and deaths.
The unions also demanded more money for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and deep cleaning of school premises.
The agreement of the key teaching unions GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, UNISON and Unite mean unless these guarantees can be met within the next two weeks, a June 1 re-opening is almost off the table.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: "Parents and staff need full confidence that schools will be safe before any pupils return.
“The government must work closely with unions to agree a plan that meets the tests we have set out. Those discussions must include unions representing all school workers, not just teachers.
“The best way to do this is through a national taskforce for safe schools, with government, unions and education stakeholders. Schools must also get extra funds from government to pay for essential safety measures like PPE and additional cleaning."
The demands set out by the TUC include:
- Safety and welfare of pupils and staff as the "paramount principle"
- No increase in pupil numbers until full roll-out of a national test, trace and isolate scheme
- A national COVID-19 education taskforce with government, unions and education stakeholders to agree statutory guidance for safe reopening of schools
- Consideration of the specific needs of vulnerable students and families facing economic disadvantage
- Additional resources for deep cleaning of school buildings, PPE and risk assessments
- Local power to close schools where testing indicates clusters of new COVID-19 cases
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford this morning ruled out any chance of schools reopening in Wales in June, in line with a simolar announcement by the Scottish government.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously said he wanted primary schools to re-open as soon as possible, and is widely expected to share a "road-map" outlining a route out of lockdown, tomorrow.