School pupils in Leicester are being kept at home once again, after the city was made subject to the UK’s first local lockdown.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has ordered schools in the city to close to all but a small number of pupils following a surge in coronavirus cases.
He said although children were at low risk of serious harm from Covid-19, they can spread the infection.
Schools had been allowed to welcome back some year groups from 1 June.
The tighter restrictions are also affecting schools outside the lockdown area, with pupils told to stay away if they live within the affected area.
The Department for Education has said only vulnerable children and children of key workers can travel across the boundary in either direction for school or appointments with social workers.
Paul Galvin, head teacher of St Luke’s Primary School in Thurnby, said: “It might be difficult for families who are inside the lockdown zone – as we are just outside the boundary – especially if they are not children of critical workers.
“There are a small number of children affected at our school. I am deeply sorry for the problems this may cause parents and carers.”
He added the school had “adapted and will keep adapting to changes” during the pandemic.
Magda Raszowska, whose five-year-old daughter attends Launde Primary School in Oadby, said it was “like we’re going back to March”.
“I’m sad for my kids and sad for myself but obviously safety comes first,” she said.
Mr Hancock said: “This virus hardly impacts on children, they’re very low risk. It’s very unusual for a child to get ill with coronavirus – it’s one of the saving graces of the virus.
“We’ve sent in a lot of extra testing into Leicester and found under-18s testing positive.
“Therefore because children can transmit the disease we think the safest thing to do is to close the schools.”
The lockdown is due to be reviewed from 18 July.
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