As fear and panic continues through the UK around Covid-19, many parents fearing the spread of the virus, are requesting the government closes schools and nurseries. The Coventry Telegraph has reported petitions being raised in the area to pressure the UK government to do just that.
Other parents are suggesting that they will pull their children out of the school system regardless, to ensure the safety of them and their families.
The UK government and Public Health England states that although an ever evolving situation, government advice remains for schools to stay open as normal, except in exceptional circumstances, and for parents to continue to send their children to school.
Parents have a duty under the Education Act 1996 to ensure their child receives a suitable education either by regular attendance at school or otherwise. If unauthorised attendance drops below an acceptable level head teachers may take formal action against a parent to ensure attendance. This could include a fixed penalty notice (i.e. a fine) being issued by the Local Authority and if that is not paid the Local Authority can then prosecute the parent which in some circumstances can lead to a custodial sentence.
The Department for Education have reiterated that ‘current advice from Public Health England is that schools should remain open unless advised otherwise. It is for head teacher to decide whether an individual absence is authorised but where schools are open and pupils are not unwell and have not been asked to self-isolate by PHE we would expect them to attend school as normal’.
Therefore, if your child is well and their school is open, you should continue to make sure they attend school until the governmental guidance changes.
If parents have genuine concerns about their child’s safety and wellbeing because, for example, they fall into a vulnerable group they should discuss their concerns with the school and see what arrangements can be put in place to minimise risk.
For more information of what penalties are possible for going against governmental guidance and how Cartwright King could help, please contact us on 0808 168 5550.