Do I have to send my child back to school on March 8?

The leaked document first landed in School Guide's Inbox late on Sunday evening, and by Monday morning it was confirmed: 

All schools in England to reopen on March 8 

PM Boris Johnson had opted for the so-called Big Bang approach with all pupils returning to the classroom on the same day rather than the phased approach that was widely expected to be announced. 

But with the news coming as a suprise to some parents, what is the situation if you feel it's too soon? 

Can parents opt for a more cautious approach, perhaps waiting until after Easter to send their child back to school? 

The short answer for the majority of pupils is no.

The Department for Education guidance notes that many pupils and/or families may be wary about returning due to risks to family members, but the department insists this not a legitimate reason not to attend.

Attendance back in school will be mandatory from March 8 across all phases – and the usual rules on school attendance apply, including:

• Parents’ duty to secure their child’s regular attendance at school (where the child is a registered pupil at school and they are of compulsory school age).

• The ability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices in line with local authorities’ codes of conduct.

Is any child exempt?
Pupils who shielding because they are classified as extremely vulnerable are still exempt, but schools can request a copy of the shielding letter sent to these at-risk pupils to confirm they are not required in school.

Schools are still required to provide remote education to pupils who are unable to attend school because they are legitimately shielding and their absence from school will not be penalised.


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