A Richmondshire primary school has postponed its full reopening after the Christmas break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Richmond Methodist Primary School was due to open to all children tomorrow.
However, for the next two weeks it will now only offer face-to-face lessons for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers.
Other children will stay at home and be taught remotely.
Headteacher Sharon Stevenson said in a letter to parents that she and the chair of governors had made the “difficult decision” to move to remote learning for the majority of children after staff raised concerns about safety following a rise in coronavirus cases.
She said: “Staff have decided to exercise their right under section 44 of the Employment Rights Act and have raised concerns about teaching full classes of children at this time due to the highly infectious new variance of Covid-19 and the imminent danger this may present to themselves, their families, their pupils and families and members of the public.
“This decision was not taken lightly and has both mine and our chair of governors full understanding and support.
“I would like to make it clear that this decision is not linked to unsafe practices at RMS.
“Both staff and parents view the actions we have taken to date as a school to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission as highly effective.
“The concerns being raised at this time are due to the rising numbers of positive cases both locally and nationally and the position this places all members of our school community in.”
Elsewhere in the district, Hawes Primary School has delayed its reopening until Thursday following a number of Covid-19 cases in the town.
North Yorkshire County Council says it is supporting schools in their decisions on whether to reopen for face-to-face teaching.
The authority isadvising all schools to follow current Department for Education guidance on opening
In North Yorkshire, all primary schools were due to open from the first day of term, the week commencing January 4.
The start of the school term for secondary and college students has been staggered; with vulnerable children and children of critical workers returning to school the week beginning January 4, including students attending special schools or Pupil Referral Services.
Children in exam year groups – Years 11 and 13 – are due to return to school on January 11 for face-to-face teaching and all other year groups are due back from January 18.
The current open plans may be subject to change, dependent on government review, and the County Council will continue to monitor Government guidance closely.
In cases where schools decide to remain closed due to staff shortages, the authority says it will be supporting schools to make sure they can deliver remote education to pupils.
Schools are being encouraged to try and organise some face-to-face support for the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils, in order to support families wherever possible.
Jane le Sage, assistant director for inclusion, said: “We understand parents will be concerned about sending their children back to school but schools in North Yorkshire are operating in line with government guidance to provide a safe environment.
“Special or pupil referral service schools have the option of agreeing with parents that individual pupils can stay at home during the week beginning January 4, but with the aim should be that all pupils in special schools, or Alternative Provision, are back in school by the second week of term.
“Current guidance states that pupils and students, who are clinically extremely vulnerable and live in tier 4, are currently being advised by the Department of Health and Social Care not to attend their educational setting but to access remote learning.”
Cllr Patrick Mulligan, Executive Member for Education and Skills said: “We are in a rapidly changing situation as we deal with the fresh challenges of the pandemic and are working hard to minimise disruption to pupils’ education.
“The county’s schools have comprehensive arrangements in place for online teaching for those children who are not receiving face-to-face teaching in the first weeks of January and for those children who are in school, we continue to have robust safety measures in place.”