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West Sussex refuses to support Crawley schools decision of NOT fining parents for keeping children absent

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September seems to creeping ever closer and with it comes the supposed return to school for children across the town.

But with the news that parents ‘must’ send their children back to school come the start of the new school year, also came the news that one head in paticular had gone on record to say he would not fine any parent who kept their child at home.

Head of St Wilfrid’s Michael Ferry was interviewed on breakfast television where he stated that he would not fine a parent. This then led to a whole debate about who was right and what the right decision should be.

Now West Sussex County Council has added to this furore by refusing to support a decision to not fine a parent made by any head teacher or school in Crawley.

In a statement a West Sussex County Council Spokesperson said:

“We welcome the plan for all children to return to the classroom in September after, what has been for many, a lengthy absence.

“We recognise that some children may be anxious about returning to school and will work closely with our schools to help them prepare children and build the confidence of parents  and carers in the plans for a safe and managed return.

“We will continue to work with schools to engage with and support parents and carers in getting their children back into school before considering issuing penalties for poor attendance. Issuing fines for non-attendance is always a last resort.”

The lack of apparent support from the county council shows an ever growing divide on decisions being made around the ongoing problems with the coronavirus.

Responding to the comments from West Sussex, Michael Ferry said:

“The guidance allows head teachers as far as they can to make local decisions to meet the needs of their school communities.  If one of those decisions happens to be that we are not going to fine people for something that isn’t their fault then I would expect the local authority to support the headteachers in doing so.

If only 10% turn up when we reopen then I would say I have failed because I have not got across the message about what measures we are taking to protect our students.”

Coronavirus

Crawley Council confirms 16 cases of COVID-19 with a link to Southgate pub

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Crawley Council has now confirmed that an outbreak of Covid-19 at The Downsman pub in Crawley earlier this week is now being handled by Public Health England who have been organising contact tracing of staff and customers.

They confirm there are now 16 confirmed cases of coronavirus with a link to the pub and say that while this is a relatively small number and may not be the definite source of infection for all these cases, they are asking people to take action to ensure the virus does not spread further.

But some confusion still remains over why a single day, where one person who visited the Downsman and who has subsequently contracted Coronavirus, is exempt from people having to self-isolate. Crawley Council said they were looking into more detail over why this advice had been given to them.


A spokesperson for Crawley Borough Council said:

“If you were in The Downsman pub between 9 and 18 July (excluding the 16July) please self-isolate for 14 days from the date of your last visit.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you must self-isolate and get tested. Symptoms include a high temperature, new continuous cough and a loss or change in your sense of taste and smell.

If you develop symptoms your household contacts will also be required to self-isolate. More information on self-isolation is available on the NHS website.

If you have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case, you will need to complete your 14-day isolation period even if you test negative. There is detailed guidance on the NHS website.

In order to arrange a free test, please visit nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119.

A testing site is based in Crawley until 28 July; there is also a testing centre at Gatwick Airport. For more information about testing then please visit the government website.

West Sussex County Council Public Health and Public Health England confirmed they are continuing to monitor the situation and will organise contact tracing for any further identified cases who may have visited the pub.

For more information and advice visit crawley.gov.uk/coronavirus, westsussex.gov.uk/coronavirus and let’s Keep Crawley Safe.

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