Truancy fines in South Tyneside suspended amid back to school coronavirus fears

South Tyneside parents are being given a two-week break from truancy fines amid concern over the spread of coronavirus in schools.

The borough council has today, Monday, January 4, confirmed it is suspending penalties for non-attendance until January 18.

Deputy leader Coun Joan Atkinson said education bosses understood that parents might be worried about sending children back to the classroom.

"We appreciate that some parents and carers have concerns about sending their children back to the classroom and recognise that that is a matter of personal choice,” she said.

Coun Joan Atkinson

"For those who choose not to send their children back to school, fines will be suspended until 18th January.

"We will review the position again at that point.

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"We continue to support our schools to make the decision that is right for them and their students and appreciate all the hard work that has been done over the festive break to make sure schools are as safe as they possibly can be."

Teaching unions have opposed Government plans to reopen primary schools today amid fears of a new spike in coronavirus infections.

National Education Union joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted told BBC Breakfast: “It will be helpful with two weeks’ Christmas break where there was mixing over Christmas and unfortunately that has raised levels of infection.”

Today’s move to suspend truancy fine comes a day after the council announced it was giving schools the final say on whether they would reopen after the Christmas break.

Leader Coun Tracey Dixon said schools had been working hard to make a safe return possible: “I want to thank our school communities for everything that they have done and continue to do to ensure that children across South Tyneside can be educated as safely as possible,” she said.

“Headteachers and their governing bodies have been working throughout the festive break to ensure everything is in place for the safe return of pupils but parents, carers and teachers may have growing concerns about returning to school in the current climate.

"Throughout the pandemic we have supported our schools to deliver education safely and we will continue to do so.”

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