A school governor warns that some inspectors for Hertfordshire primary schools do not have the necessary health and safety qualifications to safely assess if a school can reopen in the pandemic.

While 90 per cent of schools in Hertfordshire reopened yesterday (June 1), Pete Hill, a governor at an infant school who has 35 years of experience within health and safety, warns that some schools may not have had the appropriate inspections.

Mr Hill, from Ware in Hertfordshire, explained that governors throughout the county are not required to hold any health and safety qualifications before making the call that a school is safe to operate during the pandemic.

Hertfordshire County Council has confirmed there is “no statutory requirement” for these qualifications.

Read more: List of primary schools that have reopened - and those that remain closed

While this has always been the case with schools, Mr Hill said that stricter precautions should be taken considering the worries of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Hill said: “This means at this moment, decisions affecting the health of pupils, teachers, parents and the wider community in respect of Covid-19, are being taken by unqualified and well-meaning volunteers.

“Covid-19 is just another hazard that could lead to fatalities, I just cannot see the logic in not taking the extra steps.

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The governor added he believes that many schools will “remove all control measures from teachers” as they will be unable to go up close and take care of a child in need.

He said while Year 6 children are likely to social distance, pupils in infant schools and younger years are less likely to follow guidelines, meaning that the environment safety is extremely important to ensure that some distance is kept.

Mr Hill said: “I think they (governors) have an impossible job, it’s a difficult decision. But people are producing risk assessments and they may be unqualified or inexperienced. They are trying to make the best of a bad job.

“I’m extremely concerned that they may be seen as personally liable if an outbreak happens there or something goes wrong, they’ll be seen as responsible, but it’s not their fault as they’re unqualified!”

Read more: We visit Lanchester Community Free School to see how pupils are keeping safe as they return to class

Many of his complaints have been addressed to Hertfordshire County Council including Councillor Terry Douris, Cabinet Member for Education, Libraries and Localism.

A Hertfordshire County Council spokesperson said: “There is no statutory requirement for a Health and Safety governor in schools, although Hertfordshire County Council has always recommended as best practice that governors are appointed for specific areas such as Health and Safety, SEND or safeguarding, which is why we offer them face-to-face and online Health and Safety training.

“Responsibility for day to day operational management of the school lies with the headteacher and their leadership team.

“It is for each employer to set out policy and guidance on Health and Safety and to monitor that such arrangements are effective. “

“Governors should play a part in that monitoring, but operational decisions such as risk assessments and the controls required, be that for COVID-19 or any other safety issue, are taken by headteachers following their employer’s policy.

“The employer will be the local authority for VC/community schools, the governing body for VA/foundation schools or trustees for academies.”

The county council previously received criticism from the National Education Union, who warned that preparations for schools in Hertfordshire are “not sufficient enough” for a safe reopening.

In response to the warning, the leader of Hertfordshire County Council, Cllr David Williams, said “ultimately decisions have to be made”.

He said: "I believe that both our planning and that of schools has been very thorough. Possible risks have been reviewed in every school by Head Teachers with advice and support from the Council. Where necessary, safeguards have been put in place.

"I am confident it is now safe for schools to reopen in the planned and measured way proposed by the Government. I am confident our children will be safe in school as will staff, and I would urge parents now to join in returning their children to school."

Safety guidelines imposed by the Department of Education including splitting children into ‘bubble’ groups of 15 pupils or less per class, so they do not interact with many people.

There are staggered start, break, lunch and end of school times to assure any interaction is limited.

Many other precautions are taken such as cleaning stations, one-way systems and more.