A DARLINGTON schools trust has explained why its pupils did not return to school on Monday in line with the government's plans to reopen.

The Lingfield Education Trust, which runs several schools including Mount Pleasant Primary School and Hurworth Primary School, said its schools would not open for another two weeks.

In a letter to parents and guardians, Chief Executive Nick Blackburn, said the delayed reopening would allow time for NHS testing procedures to be established before 'large volumes' of children returned.

Mr Blackburn, who also said the revised date would provide "valuable time" for the risk of infection to further reduce "significantly," said its schools would begin to reopen from June 15.

In the letter, he said: "I am pleased to confirm that Trustees approved the re-opening of trust schools to additional year groups from the week beginning Monday 15th June.

"Key to this decision is the fact that this further two-week period from June 1st will give valuable time for the very low risk of infection to further reduce significantly.

"(It will also) allow time for strong local testing procedures to be established so that Track Trace & Isolate arrangements are in place before larger volumes of children return to our schools."

In addition, Mr Blackburn revealed how its schools would be reducing the risk of Covid-19 to both its pupils and staff.

He said the school would be "controlling transmission" of the disease by minimising contact with children and adults who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend school.

He said everyone would be required to clean their hands more often than usual, while hand gel would be made available.

He went on to say that schools would employ the government's ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.

Meanwhile, he said extensive cleaning regimes would include the regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces using standard products, such as detergents and bleach.

He went on to say that classroom layouts would be changed to further minimise contact and break times would be staggered throughout the day.

The comments made by Mr Blackburn came as The Northern Echo revealed an overwhelming majority of North-East parents said they were not going to send their child back to school on June 1.