Education secretary Gavin Williamson has said parents will face fines if they do not send their children back to school in September.
Speaking to the LBC radio station this morning, he said the government was making sure that schools were “safe and secure” places both for teachers and pupils and that “in September every child has to be back” unless there was a good reason, such as a spike in coronavirus cases forcing a local lockdown.
He said: “We are absolutely adamant that school is the best place for a child to be and it is going to be compulsory for children to return to be at school unless there is a very good reason.”
Williamson: 'Bubble size could rise to whole class'
He added: “Unless there was a good reason for the absence then we would be looking at the fact that we would be imposing fines on families if they’re not sending their children back.”
Mr Williamson also said this morning that the government will set out detailed plans of how schools will reopen to all children in all year groups from September.
Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme, he said: “As both myself and the prime minister made clear, we are going to be seeing the full return of all children in all year groups to our schools whether they are primary or secondary or FE colleges.
“We are going to take the opportunity to spell out exactly how we are going to see a full return of all children back into school before the end of this week.
"At the moment we are consulting and talking to different people whether it's headteachers, unions or schools representative bodies.”
When asked if the government had plans to carry out coronavirus testing in schools, Mr Williamson replied: “We have very comprehensive plans in terms of both testing and tracing. We recognize that there will be challenges that emerge in terms of…[the situation, and] there will be local communities that will be potentially impacted by a rise in terms of infections and we recognise that schools will potentially, in a local community, have to close in localised closures or [there will be] year groups having to close if this sort of testing has indicated that there is coronavirus within a school.”
Last week, headteachers welcomed a report in the Daily Telegraph that the DfE was planning to allow secondary schools to scrap social distancing and use "bubbles" based on whole year groups.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, Mr Williamson refused to go into details about the plan for schools returning but repeated the proposal that bubbles sizes would increase from 15 to full class sizes.
At the height of the pandemic, the DfE said parents who didn’t send their children back to the classroom when schools re-open from 1 June would not face fines.