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One in ten kids still not back to school as classes reopen

MORE than one in ten kids were still NOT back in school last week, new figures show.

Most kids in England have returned back to the classroom, but some kids were still at home over coronavirus fears.

Boris Johnson promised that all schools would be open in September for the start of the school year.

Today it was revealed that some 99 per cent of schools opened on time, and 88 per cent of kids attended class, according to fresh government numbers.

The one per cent that are closed or partly-open is said to be because of coronavirus outbreaks.

Absences are usually around 4.9 per cent, according to Government data from 2019/20 – meaning that more than double that amount are currently out of school.

But it’s thought that some of the absences may be because of the usual bugs going around schools – as thousands make their way back in with their peers as it usual in September.

A No10 spokesperson said today: “We always knew there would be some parents where it may take time for them to feel confident in sending kids back.

“These figures should reassure parents that the vast majority of children are safely back in school.”

Parents who don’t send their kids to school can now face £120 fines again, but it’s understood that none have been dished out since schools reopened.

Ii’s up to individual headteachers if they want to fine parents for not having a reasonably excuse for keeping kids off.

Downing Street added: “We have always been clear that fines will only ever be used as a last resort where there’s no valid reason for absence. It is vital to help children catch up. 

“Schools should work with families to ensure that kids are back in school.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Government will continue to work with schools, local authorities and parents “to make sure as many children as possible attend school”.

He said: “The best place for children and young people to learn is in the classroom, and it’s encouraging to see that last week more than seven million pupils were back with their classmates and teachers at schools around the country.”

But while ministers managed to reopen schools on time, there is growing alarm that kids’ education will be thrown into a fresh crisis by the testing shambles, which is seeing entire year groups forced to stay home and self isolate.

Heads and teachers have reported being unable to get tests and thousands have had to isolate at home in case they have the virus.

Netmums called on the Government to get a “grip” on the “broken” system before it was too late.

In an open letter they said: “Our community of parents is full of mums and dads pushed to the limit.

“The world-beating system that was promised during lockdown is nowhere to be seen, so we are asking the government to urgently look into what can be done to improve the testing process for children and school staff.

“It doesn’t need to be world-beating. It just needs to work.”

One mum of a five year old said: “My daughter has a cough, I’ve tried to get her tested. The nearest test centre is 40 miles away. The next option would be to order a kit for home.

“I’ve tried the last 3 days and there is none available. I believe its just a cold as she hasn’t gone off food and had no temp! I don’t want to be stuck in for 2 weeks with what may or may not be coronavirus, but can’t get a test.”

Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh said today that it was “vital this shortfall is addressed as a matter of urgency”.

She wrote to Matt Hancock and Gavin Williamson demanding action.

She said: “Without adequate access to testing, parents are being places in an impossible position: forced to choose between their child losing more than a week of education, or potentially returning to school whilst carrying Covid-19.”

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