AN outstanding primary school is to delay its reopening plans to more pupils this week due to the regional rise in the coronavirus infection rate – known as the R rate.

Sacred Heart RC School which was due to open to more children in reception, Year One and Year Six after the half-term break in line with Government guidance.

But following the news that the North West coronavirus reinfection number rose in the region it will remain closed to children, other than those of keyworkers.

The ‘R’ number in the North West is now 1.01 – the highest in England.

This means every infectious individual is transmitting the virus to more than one person on average, raising the risk of another peak in the pandemic.

The R value refers to the average number of people that will contract coronavirus from an infected person.

If it is 1 or higher, the virus will spread exponentially through the population, while a value less than 1 indicates the virus is in decline.

This Is Lancashire:

(Sacred Heart RC Primary School)

In a letter to families, the head teacher, Martin Johnson and the governing body explained the re-opening would be delayed.

Neighbouring Blackburn with Darwen’s Director of Public Health Professor Dominic Harrison has advised schools in Blackburn with Darwen to delay their wider opening until at least June 22.

But there was no suggestion Public Health in Bolton has advised schools to close or delay their reopening when they reacted to the reinfection rate on Friday.

One parent has welcomed the news that Sacred Heart RC School in Westhoughton is delaying its wider opening, describing the 'R' as worrying.

This Is Lancashire:

(Sacred Heart RC Primary School measures to keep children safe)

The letter stated: "Public Health England published an up-to-date analysis of regional ‘R’ values (which represent the speed of the virus’ spread). Their modelling shows the ‘R’ value in the North West region to be the highest in the UK, at over the critical value of 1. This means that the government’s five measures for safe re-opening of schools have now not been achieved in this region ­— one of these non-negotiables was that the ‘R’ was below 1. Our risk assessment w"as dependent upon this.

Furthermore, adjoining local authorities have issued direction to their schools to delay wider opening in response to the regional rise in ‘R’ value. The Governing Board of Sacred Heart therefore have no alternative but to remain closed except to those children currently in receipt of a key critical worker & vulnerable pupil ‘care’ place.

"The safety of our children, staff and the wider community are always at the forefront of everything we do."

The school says it will review the decision on Friday, June 12 when the next set of Public Health England information and figures are released.

The letter adds: "We appreciate that this unanimous decision of our governing board, not taken lightly, at late notice, will cause some anxiety, but we feel confident that you will agree that it is one taken in the best interests of everyone’s safety. Your continued support on a daily basis is greatly appreciated."