A NURSERY has said it was left with no choice but to ask parents to continue to pay fees so their children can keep their space.

Queen Bees Day Nursery in Benfleet sent a letter to the parents of its 100 pupils on May 12 asking them to confirm if they wanted their children to return on June 1 or risk losing their child’s place.

The letter was met with concern by two parents who were worried about the risk of sending their children back to the nursery.

Owner Natalie Catino said they had been directed by the education authorities to open, where possible, from that date.

Ms Catino assured parents that a full risk assessment on children’s safety and social distancing measures would be carried out once they had an idea of pupil numbers.

In response she said: “I don’t think I am alone in saying that achieving social distancing between young children will be very difficult, whether this is in nurseries or schools.

“Whatever my view on this, I am a professional who will apply the strictest rules, risk assessments and guidance for our staff and parents to ensure we minimise the risks of potential infection.

“It would be wrong for me to offer any parent a guarantee that complete social distance and zero risk would be achievable and indeed it would be a complete misrepresentation to suggest this to parents to encourage them to return their children to nursery.”

The nursery, based in London Road, will be opening with 50 per cent capacity on June 1.

The nursery offered parents a choice of sending the children back or paying their monthly invoices to secure their place but keep their children home for safety, or not paying and taking the children out of the nursery completely.

Ms Catino said she was working with the government and Ofsted to ensure they do right by their pupils. She added: “I am opening the nursery because I am under huge pressure from Government, local authority and parents to provide care. I have the responsibility for all our 100 or so children and this is a huge burden when ensuring their welfare.

“We are a new business that has been only open for just over two years and in reality the circumstances of the pandemic could potentially end our business due to financial hardship.”