Leeds Council outlines policy on fines for absent kids when schools reopen

The Government has said primary schools are set to reopen in phases on June 1.
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But many parents and teachers have concerns about the ongoing risk of Covid-19.

On Sunday, Boris Johnson said the government intended to reopen then for early years pupils, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.

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But he also acknowledged that it "may not be possible" for all schools, adding that the government will support those "experiencing difficulties" to reopen as soon as possible.

Parents will not be fined for keeping their children out of school.Parents will not be fined for keeping their children out of school.
Parents will not be fined for keeping their children out of school.

On June 15, up to a quarter of Year 10 and Year 12 will be allowed "some contact" to help prepare for exams.

Leeds City Council has said it will leave the decision of whether to restart lessons to individual schools, adding they will ‘not expect every school to open from day one’ as lockdown measures ease.

Last week, the council's education chief, Coun Jonathan Pryor, claimed the government’s advice "just doesn’t work".

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He said: “We have one primary school where every classroom can be accessed from outside individually, compared to another primary school where there is a singular door and the school is on a main road, with quite a narrow pavement, meaning social distancing is impossible."

Speaking at the virtual press conference, council leader Judith Blake added: “Even if our schools were able to fully open on June 1, it’s very doubtful how many parents would choose to send them to school because they have such a significant level of concern and a loss of confidence in what they are being told.”

Under normal circumstances, parents can be prosecuted for not sending their children to school.

Warnings are issued first, with fines coming later, but the issue can end up in court if parents do not have a good reason.

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The Government has clarified what will happen in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education (DfE) said: "Whilst there will be no penalty for families who do not send their children to school, families will be strongly encouraged to take up these places - unless the child or a family member is shielding or the child is particularly vulnerable due to an underlying condition."

Leeds City Council confirmed it would be following this policy.

A spokeswoman said: "In line with DfE guidance, there will not be fines for children who do not attend school who would be eligible to do so."


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