A dad refusing to send his daughter to school over coronavirus fears is horrified after being warned he could face a £10,000 fine or prison.
Michael Huston’s daughter did not return to Samuel Barlow Primary Academy near Mansfield like her classmates at the beginning of September.
The concerned dad kept the eight-year-old at home, fearful there would be an outbreak at the school as there has been at hundreds of others across the UK.
However on Monday he “caved in to pressure” and let her go in for a day, only to hear claims there was “no social distancing” at the primary.
The Academy refuted the claims that it is not following procedure and said it was providing a learning environment that was “as safe as possible”.
Two days after taking his daughter out of school again on Tuesday Mr Huston received a call from the headteacher.
Mr Huston says she explained he faced hefty fines and even jail time if he continued to keep his daughter at home, as is the law.
“I can’t go to prison because I’m a single dad. At some point I’m going to have to cave in.”
Mr Huston claimed classrooms were too crowded and his daughter had been hugged by other pupils – something the school said happened off its premises.
“I’m expected to hand over my child from safety to an enclosed environment with 26 other children plus at least three adults, teachers and TAs, who don’t know if they have Covid-19 or not as they aren’t tested,” he continued.
“This is appalling. The very people who are supposed to look after our children are literally forcing me to take my child away from safety.”
He added: “Never did I think I would have to battle with a school for my child’s safety.
“We are in the midst of a deadly global pandemic and we all need to do whatever we can to lessen the risk to us all.
“This set-up is basically seeding the community with Covid-19 using our children as the seeds.”
Mr Huston says he is ready to home school his daughter and has bought Year 4 text books in preparation.
A spokesperson for the school said: “Samuel Barlow Primary Academy have implemented a range of control measures relating to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which are being successfully adhered to by pupils and staff since their return in September.
“The academy is operating to agreed risk assessments, that have been developed in line with government guidance and which are reviewed daily by our leadership team.
“We have been pleased with how our children have engaged with their learning and adapted to new routines after the period of home-learning.
“We will continue to provide an environment which is as safe as possible, ensuring that all our pupils have access to education, which is such a vital part of any child’s development.
“We are aware of the concerns of the family of one of our pupils who is currently not attending the academy and are working closely with them to ensure that their child can return to their education.”
Teachers and school leaders have been under serious pressure to manage a significant chunk of the public health response to the pandemic since classes returned in September.
Keeping coronavirus out of classrooms has proved very difficult so far, with close to 1,000 schools reporting confirmed cases in the past several weeks.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, explained the near impossible task facing teachers.
“Leaders and their staff have found themselves effectively on the front line in managing a significant element of the public health response to the Covid pandemic,” he wrote in TES.
“The level of responsibility involved is extraordinary, so is the level of anxiety.
“After all, education’s leaders have in their direct care pupils, colleagues, and then, by extension, their families, and the wider community.”