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Devon won't fine parents who keep children off school

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020 9:10am

By Daniel Clark, local democracy reporter

Provided you've followed medical advice

Devon parents won’t be fined if they do not send their children back to school in September when following medical or public health advice in the county.

Cllr James McInnes, cabinet member for schools and the councillor for Hatherleigh and Chagford, says parents have the legal duty to provide their child with an education again from the start of the new term. However, the council won’t be issuing fines if parents keep their child off school when following medical advice.

Cllr McInnes said: “In Devon, schools and the local authority will work with parents to support children back into schools and where children are not able to attend school, as parents are following medical and/or public health advice, the absence will not be penalised.” He said that to ensure the schools can open in September as safely as possible early years settings, schools and colleges have been putting in place proportionate protective measures for children and staff as laid out in government guidance.

This guidance has been developed with advice from PHE and includes essential measures such as a requirement that people who are ill stay at home, robust hand and respiratory hygiene, enhanced cleaning arrangements, active engagement with NHS Test and Trace, and formal consideration of how to reduce contacts and maximise distancing between those in school wherever possible.

He said: “The government has said that all children and young people, in all year groups, will return to school and college full time from the beginning of the autumn term and that attendance will be mandatory. This is because the prevalence of coronavirus has decreased since schools and colleges restricted their opening in March, the NHS test and trace service is up and running and more is understood about the measures that need to be in place to create safer environments in schools.

“For parents and carers of children of compulsory school age, this means that the legal duty to provide their child with an education will apply. In Devon, schools and the Local Authority will work with parents to support children back into schools and where children are not able to attend school, as parents are following medical and/or public health advice, the absence will not be penalised.

“We also recognise that children and young people returning to school and college is not only important for their educational progress but also for their wellbeing, and wider development.”

He added that where there were instances of parents being concerned about the safety of allowing their child to return to school, they would invite them to see the measures in place to ensure the environment is as safe as possible.
 

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