A SCHOOL facing a two-day shutdown over a winter vomiting outbreak had warned pupils just days earlier that ‘tummy upsets’ and ‘headaches’ are not acceptable reasons for absence, it has emerged.

Parkside School in Cullingworth revealed that a “serious outbreak of norovirus” had affected more than 15 per cent of its school population - both staff and students.

But parents have told the Telegraph & Argus that the firm email was “completely bad timing”.

One father said the email, which warned families they could be fined if absence continues to be low, meant parents sent their children to school with stomach upsets.

One parent, who is hoping their poorly son has not contracted the virus, told the Telegraph & Argus: “A lot of his friends have been affected so they’ve cancelled his football training.

“I found the email quite condescending.

“It seems they’re more interested in the figures for attendance than welfare.

“It seemed completely bad timing.

“I think they’ve dealt with the norovirus outbreak in the right way to ensure nobody else gets affected. The initial email about sending children home when they were poorly was not worded very well.”

Andy Taylor, headteacher at Parkside School, apologised to parents for the inconvenience but said “health and well being of everyone is a paramount concern”.

The school will re-open tomorrow after undergoing a deep-clean to break the cycle of the virus.

The email sent by the school last Monday, seen by the Telegraph & Argus, says: “Here at Parkside School we do not feel that a medical appointment warrants a full day’s absence from school. In fact medical appointments should be made out of school hours wherever possible. Days off for illness should only be for serious illness; migraines, sore throats, tummy upsets, colds, headaches, ‘not feeling great’, in growing toenails etc, are not acceptable reasons for absence.

“We want all students to be successful, not just at school but in life after school too, the main barrier to that success is attendance.

"I will actively seek to enforce the necessary legal actions to address absence affairs where improvements are not seen and /or parents do not engage with or recognised the legitimate concern regarding their child’s absence."

Another parent said the notice left many “fearful” about what classed as a minor and major illness - something he feels has contributed to spreading the virus.

He described the whole situation as an “annoyance” amid a struggle to find childcare or relatives to look after his children.

He said: “In their list of ‘minor illnesses that do not qualify for absence’ was ‘tummy upset’.

“I suspect parents getting threatened with fines for keeping sick children off school hasn’t helped with their current situation.”

The advice for anyone affected with the illness is to keep them isolated, avoid A&E or GPs as this may spread the virus, drink regularly and take age-appropriate paracetomol. Both Bradford Royal Infirmary and Airedale Hospital confirmed it had no ward closures due to norovirus.

Marium Haque, Bradford Council’s deputy director of education and learning, said: “Every day that a child is not in school will affect the outcome of their education so it is important that children attend school and don’t miss days for minor ailments. Public Health England (PHE) have published very clear guidance on infection control in schools and other childcare settings. We work closely with PHE and schools to make sure this guidance is implemented to avoid the spread of any virulent infections.”