CONSERVATIVES in Bury have written to the borough council's leadership over the "purely political decision" not to reopen schools in two weeks’ time in line with government guidance.

Tories have called on education bosses at Bury Council to explain why has told primary schools not to reopen for reception, Year 1 and Year 6 on June 1.

Education cabinet member Tamoor Tariq wrote to headteachers on Monday, setting out the council’s position before a survey of parents’ views had closed.

Cllr Tariq has insisted the move has “nothing to do with politics at all”.

Conservative group leader Nick Jones has now written to Bury Council’s executive director of children’s services, asking for details of the scientific advice behind the decision against returning children to the classroom.

He said: “Throughout this crisis our town of Bury has had adequate supplies of personal protective equipment and there have been enough beds in our hospital to ensure we get through this crisis.

“Broad statements of opinion do not help anyone during a national crisis. It is vitally important both councillors and council officers stick to fact and follow advice.”

Conservative councillor Sam Hurst, who was chosen as shadow education and schools cabinet member this week, also criticised the move by Bury Council.

He said: “Calls to defy the government’s scientific advice by this Labour Council are extremely unhelpful.

“The government has made it clear that until the five tests are met, wider school opening will not occur, but a sensible, safe, phased return can begin from June 1.

“Given that death rates and infection rates are falling rapidly, Cllr Tariq needs to treat teachers as professionals, and schools will be taking their own stringent health and safety measures in order to protect staff and pupils.

“There are a host of wellbeing issues that are beginning to bite hard on our borough’s most vulnerable pupils as they spend longer away from school routines.”

Newly-elected Lib Dem leader Michael Powell, a primary school teacher himself, also called for clarity from the council.

He said: “Schools should only be reopened when the safety of pupils and staff can be ensured.

“We recognise that it is vitally important that children return to school as soon as possible so they can continue their education, but this should never be at a potential compromise to their safety.

“However, it is also really important that the council is clear with parents on the steps it is taking to reopen schools, and we will be asking for them to provide this clarity.”

It is now up to each governing body or trust, including those at faith schools and academies, to decide whether it agrees with the council’s position or if it will reopen regardless.

But Cllr Tamoor Tariq, lead member for children’s services, schools and families, said he is expecting all schools across the borough to “fall in line”.

He said: “Bury’s schools will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. Anything we do in Bury will continue to be in full consultation and agreement with our schools, and with parents and carers in the borough given clear information on the situation at hand.”