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Speaking on Monday, Mr Williamson told LBC: “We do have to get back into compulsory education as part of that, obviously fines sit alongside that.” The move inevitably sparked controversy, with many still uncomfortable about allowing youngsters to return to an environment where COVID-19 could potentially flourish.
Express.co.uk readers were asked: “Should parents be fined if they refuse to send their children back to school in September?”
The verdict was clear – out of a total of 3,202 voters, a clear majority – 2,397, more than 74 percent – said yes, with just 776, just over 24 percent, saying no.
A mere 29 voters – less than one percent – were undecided.
One reader commented: “Of course they should.
“As it is they are raising a snowflake generation and to add hypochondria to their psyche will be the end of any hope of a well-adjusted adult.”
Another added: “One minute they didn’t want lockdown, next they said it was ending too soon and then they suddenly start worrying about their children, the same children running around on a crowded beach whilst the parents scan their phones looking for a holiday destination! Of course, they should be fined.”
I have a relative who is refusing to send her children back to school but is quite happy to put them in a packed plane to go away on holiday in August!
A third reader said: “They will be destroying their kids future if they don’t.”
Another highlighted perceived double-standards, saying: “I have a relative who is refusing to send her children back to school – even though they could be attending now – but is quite happy to put them in a packed plane to go away on holiday in August! Go figure.”
Others took a more nuanced view.
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One suggested all necessary information needed to be taken into consideration, but added: “So long as the virus does not re-emerge and start causing huge problems then yes, school children must go back in September.
“I am not sure, but has there been any reports of how many under 17’s have been infected with COVID-19 and if so to what extent.
“That information must be taken into consideration so an informed and hopefully accurate assessment can be reached.
“If, after a back to school decision is made by the Government and parents still refuse to send their children back to school then yes, fines should start to be imposed.”
Another added: “Although I thought children should have returned to school, I could agree with parent’s right to keep them at home.
“However, by September they should return to school or be fined. Local councils, unions and school authorities have two months to create safe environments.
“It is NOT up the government to take local responsibility.”
Trade unions have voiced concern about the imposition of fines.
Patrick Roach, the general secretary of the NASUWT, said this week: “Many parents will have genuine concerns about whether it will be safe to send their children to school and they will need to know that all necessary and appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that schools are COVID-secure.
“Ministers should think carefully before issuing warnings to parents when the government has not yet explained how it plans to reopen schools safely in September.
“It is important that the safe return of children to schools is encouraged and that parental concerns are considered seriously and responded to appropriately.”
The Express.co.uk poll took place on Tuesday June 30 from 8am to 9pm.
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