The Council is calling for the list of pupils attending school over lockdown to be tightened, as classrooms in Richmond are too crowded.

Despite the national lockdown allowing only vulnerable children and those of key workers to attend school, some classrooms in the borough are at 60% capacity.

The Council is concerned that more children are at school than in the UK’s first lockdown, even though Coronavirus rates continue to rise.

Currently, only one parent or carer in the family needs to be a key worker for their children to be eligible.

However, the Council says that some pupils are not vulnerable – their parents are at home working.

This puts pressure on teachers juggling busy classes and a remote learning package, as well as causing more staff absences due to COVID-19.

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said:

“We know that school pupils now can transmit the virus through their homes, through to their families and into the community.

“You combine that with the new variant being up to 70% more infective than the previous strain, then it’s clear we have to do something to break the chain of rising levels of infection in our community.

“Our schools are working so hard to make sure that all children receive a quality education during the pandemic. But they will soon be at breaking point.

“Teachers and children are not immune from Coronavirus. They can all get it and importantly spread it. If such high numbers continue to attend then we are not going to break that chain.

“We are urgently seeking clarification from the Government about the maximum number who should be in school while protecting public health.

“We know that for parents it is tough having to juggle home schooling whilst working from home. But, it seems completely illogical that we have such a high number of children returning, given the fact that the Government has taken the drastic action of a full national lockdown precisely in order to limit contacts."