PARENTS will not be fined if they choose not to send their children back to schools in York next month, council chiefs have confirmed.

And City of York Council says that primary schools and some secondary schools in the city are issuing surveys to parents to understand their position on their children returning to school.

The surveys are part of risk assessments being completed by the council to decide whether it is safe to increase school attendance from June 1.

Maxine Squire, assistant head of education and skills, said that following Government guidance, primary schools and some secondary schools were issuing their own surveys to parents to understand their own local situation, as part of schools’ risk assessments, as they needed to be able to plan staffing and classroom space based on likely demand.

As reported by The Press yesterday, York schools are planning a phased return of pupils from June 1.

Groups containing a small number of pupils, known as ‘bubbles’, staggered drop off and collection times, small class sizes, minimising contact with different adults and observing hygiene and cleaning requirements are all plans being looked at to keep children safe.

Ms Squire said the safe reopening of schools was "one of our key principles," adding: “As a local authority, we are following Government guidance to maximise the attendance of vulnerable children who should be in school and parents will not be fined for non-attendance. As ever, our schools work with parents to support their children to maximise attendance.

“Schools will gradually increase the numbers of children from June 1 based on their risk assessments and are working closely with the local authority to do so.

“We are working with schools collectively and individually to understand their circumstances especially around safety and capacity which could impact on their decision to extend opening to more children.

“We won’t be forcing schools to re-open as they are open now, and from June 1 we are not mandating they open for all the year groups identified by the Government: this will depend on individual school’s circumstances and risk assessments.”

Meanwhile, schools across North Yorkshire will receive full support and bespoke advice from the county council to enable them to decide whether they can reopen safely.

North Yorkshire County Council is following the guidance from the Government and advising schools to prepare to be open from June 1 at the earliest.

Some schools may be ready to follow Government advice to allow them to open from that date, but many will have staggered dates and approaches depending on their individual circumstances, the council said.

It said each school will be required to undertake a risk assessment in order to plan appropriate safety measures for their specific circumstances.

This is to ensure each school can decide whether they can open safely. The council said it will support whatever decision they take.

These risk assessments will also inform the council if there are any schools in the county which cannot implement appropriate safety measures.

The council will work with schools, headteachers and the unions to support each school and the decision to open by the headteacher and governing body.

The council said parents will be encouraged to send their children to school. However, attendance has not been mandated by the Government. Parents will not be penalised for not sending their children to school during this time, the authority added.

Stuart Carlton, corporate director of children and young people’s service at North Yorkshire County Council, commented: “We are advising schools to prepare to be open from June 1 at the earliest, awaiting Government confirmation that they will.

“North Yorkshire County Council understands these unprecedented times may cause stress and anxiety, but rest assured we are here supporting schools and headteachers as best we can to make the correct and safest decisions in line with Government advice.”

More than 200 schools in North Yorkshire remain open to vulnerable children and the children of key workers already.