City of Wolverhampton Council has said it remains concerned about primary schools reopening this week in the wake of rising coronavirus cases in the city.

The council yesterday wrote to the Secretary of State for Education to express serious concerns about the safe reopening of primary schools – asking the Government to support a move to online learning, other than for children of critical workers or vulnerable children.

The council received a response from Government this afternoon saying schools must continue to prepare to open as planned at the start of term.

Overnight the city saw infection rates jump from 530 to 674 per 100,000 people – one of the highest rates in the country outside of London and the South East.

The council has written to schools again today providing an update on the rising infection rates to help them make an informed decision on reopening next week.

Leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said: “Rates have risen to an all-time high in Wolverhampton for the pandemic and are still accelerating, shooting up to nearly 700 per 100,000 people overnight.

“We’re also seeing a very high positive testing rate of 23% which compares to that of many London Boroughs where schools have been told not to reopen.

“We do not understand why protective measures fit for London and the South East are not being afforded to us in Wolverhampton when our rates are comparable. Why is it one rule for them and one rule for us?

“We have escalated our concerns to the Secretary of State, seeking support for a move to online learning, but have been informed by the Government that schools must continue to prepare to open as planned at the start of term.

“While it is ultimately their decision, we have written to confirm we would support any decision taken by schools based on the latest epidemiology in the city.”

Councillor Brookfield added: “It is important to protect our school children, teachers and staff and we want them to know they have our full support in whatever decision they take.

“We are not going to give up on this and will explore all avenues to ensure the right outcome.”