The leader of the Isle of Wight Council has said he would be surprised if headteachers decided to issue fines to parents whose children are missing school due to serious COVID concerns.

Many parents have taken to social media over the past few days to express their worries about sending children back to school for the new term, citing that the COVID-19 pandemic is at such a crucial point and the virus is continuing to spread at an alarming rate.

Whilst some schools have announced partial closures to certain years groups, others are remaining open for all children. This has left parents in a difficult position of ensuring their child’s and their family’s safety, whilst also balancing the risk of fines, lost education and childcare issues.

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Councillor Dave Stewart has confirmed that Isle of Wight schools will be following the national guidance regarding schools re-opening, which takes into account all of the scientific evidence.

Responding specifically on the question of fines for non-attendance, Cllr Stewart has said:

“Teachers are well aware that the decision to fine anyone is made by the Headteacher themselves, with the Local Authority completing the administration on their behalf, without making any profits. That said, I would be surprised if any Head Teacher would look to impose fines for anyone with real COVID concerns, so my message is for any concerned parents to have a conversation with the Headteacher to discuss their concerns before making any decisions”

“We know the importance of children returning to school but we also know the importance of doing so in a safe environment. Care of our community includes all our school staff as well as pupils and I know our lead member for Children’s Services, Councillor Paul Brading,  is in constant dialogue with our senior officers to ensure everyone is kept safe.”

“The council will continue to work with Island Schools to ensure the best outcomes for everyone”.

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Cllr Stewart says that secondary schools are already preparing for the roll-out of mass testing.

Island Echo