A school run by a former Brighton and Hove head teacher has been accused of recklessly exposing the families of children and staff to the risk of coronavirus infection.
The claims have been made by two unions after a staff member was found to have the covid-19 coronavirus after being tested last weekend.
The National Education Union (NEU) and the GMB said that the Cavendish Hub had kept quiet about the test result.
This prevented vulnerable relatives from being able to take appropriate precautions to protect their own health.
The hub, in Eastbourne, is run by Peter Marchant, a former head at the Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA) and previously deputy head of the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA).
Up to 100 children are currently attending the Cavendish Hub, mainly from the Cavendish Academy and Stafford and Roselands schools.
The NEU said: “Thankfully, we understand the member of staff is not seriously ill.
“But the potential infection that may have taken place, given the size of the hub, represents a serious and imminent threat to health.
“We are particularly concerned that despite some of the senior leadership team knowing of the case on Monday 11 May, staff and parents were not made aware until late Friday 15 May.
“This disclosure was only made at all after unions, who were informed of the case earlier on Friday 15 May, contacted management to say that we would tell staff and parents if they did not do so.”
Phil Clarke, the joint branch secretary for the NEU in East Sussex, said: “It is wholly unacceptable to allow staff and children to attend the hub for a whole week without informing them and closing the hub, allowing urgent testing and a full school deep clean to take place.
“There has clearly been a series of failures here and, as advice was sought by leadership from East Sussex County Council and Public Health England, it raises serious questions about the quality of that advice.
“We had always maintained the hub was too large and will be expecting swift action on closure, testing and a rethink of the school provision in Eastbourne during the crisis.
“How can there be faith from school staff and parents that any East Sussex schools can open more widely from (Monday) 1 June when, even with limited opening, a confirmed case in a school has been handled so badly?”
The GMB said: “Our members, who are key workers, deserve better than this and it is now down to the head and the governors to convince staff and ourselves that they will take safety more seriously going forward.
“GMB, the union for school support staff, were shocked to discover that management at Eastbourne’s Cavendish Academy have kept secret the fact that there has been a confirmed case of covid-19 in the school.
“A recent GMB poll of school support staff shows that around 96 per cent of them are very concerned about opening schools to early placing pupils and staff health at risk of exposure to coronavirus.
“Yet the school’s head teacher Peter Marchant is making the appalling decision that there is no need to inform parents, instead hiding behind Public Health England, who say schools do not need to inform all staff and parents, and that staff and pupils in direct contact do not need to self-isolate unless they have symptoms, thus potentially risking further spread.
“The school has accordingly delayed a deep clean on the site, which has been acting as a hub for up to four schools in the area too.”
GMB regional organiser Lib Whitfield said: “It’s bad enough that this government’s actions are leaving parents and staff feeling scared and confused about whether pupils will be returning to school on (Monday) 1 June.
“It now appears that Peter Marchant has chosen to further up the stakes by knowingly keeping information about actual cases in their children’s school from them.
“GMB now have no choice now but to request that a deep clean is carried out on site and that a new risk assessment is carried out immediately with the findings published openly.
“We call for the most stringent hygiene measures and isolation for all suspected cases, to protect vulnerable people and to avoid schools becoming covid-19 hotspots.”