An MP has urged residents to be tolerant to others - amid reports of pupils being “vilified” by members of the public because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dame Cheryl Gillan has issued a heartfelt plea after she was reportedly called by the head teacher of a school in her Chesham and Amersham constituency.

The head teacher said that pupils are being seen as a source of potential infection after returning to school - and members of the public have complained to school authorities about them.

Dame Cheryl said: “The concern seems to be that, as pupils are returning to school now, members of the public who see them as a source of potential infection by Covid-19 have been venting their views to school authorities.

“But the chief public health officers in all four countries of the UK have pointed out that the risk of pupils going back to school is far outweighed by the risk of damage to their lifetime chances of not getting an education.”

She urged her residents to think twice about what they say to others.

She added: “Please, we must try to be tolerant to others.

“The stresses and strains of life during Covid-19 are great, but we must all try to help one another, not give others a hard time.

“There have been other instances of people who are not able to wear face coverings being reprimanded by others without asking or respecting that people could have a good reason.

“People have their own struggles and personal circumstances which might not be immediately visible or apparent.”

Dame Cheryl has previously spoken out about her views on children returning to school despite the continuing threat of the virus.

She said: “Teachers and other staff have been planning for a long time to ensure there are robust protective measures in place for everyone to work in a safe environment.

“The long term risk to young people of missing their education is high, while the risk of long-term damage from Covid-19 due solely to attending school is low.”