SCHOOLS will reopen across England on March 8 under Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown, which is set to be unveiled this afternoon.
But can you keep your children home even though classrooms are no longer closed because of Covid-19?
Will I be fined for not sending my child to school?
Families who ignore the government’s rules on their kid’s education will be hit with a penalty unless they have a “good reason”.
It is against the law to withhold your child from school, except for a small number of exceptions.
These include your child being ill, or if you have received advance permission from the school.
Under current laws, a local council can give each parent a fine of £60, which rises to £120 each if the fine is not paid within 21 days.
If the fine still remains unpaid after 28 days you may be prosecuted for your child’s absence from school.
This could result in a fine of up to £2,500, a community order or a jail sentence of up to three months.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The Chief and Deputy Chief Medical Officers have highlighted the risks of not being in education on their development and mental health.
“Schools should work with families to ensure children are attending full time. As usual, fines will sit alongside this, but only as a last resort and where there is no valid reason for absence.”
However, guidance from the Department also states that schools should “bear in mind the potential concerns of pupils, parents and households who may be reluctant or anxious about attending school and put the right support in place to address this”.
When your school reopens, your child should attend unless already agreed with the headteacher.
What if my child needs to quarantine?
Children who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus and those who have compromised immune systems are exempt from mandatory school attendance.
It’s likely that schools will have electronic learning platforms already in place.
Last time schools reopened students formed bubbles in their year group and were told to stay home when there was an outbreak among pupils.
It is also strongly recommended that parents ensure their children’s other vaccinations are up to date.
What have headteachers said about fining parents?
Headteachers unions, the Association of School and College Leaders, and the National Association of Head Teachers agree it is right to prioritise keeping pupils in the classroom.
They have called on ministers to be transparent about the risks to children, families and school staff.
The unions have previously called on the government to remove fines for parents who keep their children out of school, the Guardian reports.
NEU Joint General Secretary Kevin Courtney insisted last November that ONS data showed schools “are an engine for virus transmission”.
A joint statement by teachers’ unions this week warned bringing all pupils in England back to school together on March 8 would be “reckless”.