As most primary schools in England reopen to more pupils on Monday, a survey from an authoritative education body suggested that schools expect half of parents would like to keep their children at home rather than sending them back to school.
Conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), the survey suggested that primary school leaders expect that 47 percent of families will keep their children home, with the proportion rising to 50 percent among pupils eligible for free school meals.
Meanwhile, 25 percent of teachers are likely to be absent because of health issues for themselves or their families, said the survey.
The survey also found that disadvantaged families and those living in the north of England were the most reluctant to return their children to school.
“There needs to be very clear messages and reassurance for parents, as well as a continued focus on the quality of remote learning,” said NFER chief executive Carole Willis.
The government had “reviewed all the evidence” before reopening schools to more pupils, said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.