SCHOOLS in West Berkshire are now rationing places for children because high demand is stretching capacity.

West Berkshire Council states that only the children of those classed as critical workers and vulnerable children can continue to attend school or college during the national lockdown.

In a statement, the council said demand for school places is higher than it was during the first national lockdown and it is “now stretching schools’ capacity”.

That means some schools are “having to ration places”, the council added.

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Cllr Dominic Boeck, executive member for education, said: “Schools have their own set of challenges to manage including staff who now need to home school, shield, or self-isolate.

“This, in turn, impacts on the availability of places the school can offer safely with the increase in demand.

“I urge all parents and carers to read the updated guidance on the definition of what constitutes a critical worker, especially as the guidance has been updated.

“I would also encourage all those classed as a critical worker, in accordance to the guidance, to keep their children at home if they can.

“Especially if you can make alternative arrangements that follow the lockdown rules.”

He added: “Sticking to the guidance will help us all in slowing down the spread of the virus to ensure children can go back to school safely.”

According to the government guidance, a child can continue to attend school or college if the work of at least one parent is “critical to the Covid-19 and EU transition response”.

This includes people who work in:

  • Health and social care
  • Education and childcare
  • Key public services
  • Local and national government
  • Food and necessary goods
  • Public safety and national security
  • Transport and border security 
  • Utilities, communications and financial services

The guidance also states that parents and carers “should keep their children at home if they can”.