The education secretary said parents in England who fail to send their children back to school are at risk of "severely affecting their future life chances" before students return to classrooms this week.
Gavin Williamson also said he was not considering stepping down despite criticism of the exams fiasco, telling the Sun he would instead continue "grafting away."
In an open letter to parents, Williamson admitted that some may have concerns that their children are going to school in England for the first time since March.
However, he insisted that the schools be safe. He explained the measures to minimize infections and told parents that the health risk of Covid-19 for children was "extremely low".
“When a child is out of school, they lose far more than just a few months of study. This could seriously affect their future life chances, ”he said.
"Education is a birthright, so we make sure we all get children back, learn again, play again and become children again."
He also told the Sun: "For every day they don't go to school, we don't get that day back. I've seen my children miss school, miss their friends, miss learning to have. "
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His comments came after union teachers condemned the government for publishing last-minute guidelines for secondary schools in restricted areas, including a "rota system" that limits the number of students attending at the same time.
The Ministry of Education (DfE) published the guidelines on Friday evening, just before the holiday weekend and just a few days before the start of the fall semester.
In his letter to parents on Sunday, Williamson said it was generally accepted that the health and wellbeing of children were more at risk when they were not in school.
He referred to a joint statement by the UK chief medical officer in which very few said whether children and adolescents would be harmed by the virus in the long term just from going to school.
Some of the measures Williamson highlighted include keeping children in groups or "bubbles" to limit contact and the use of face covers in school common areas that are closed on site.
He said "a great effort" had been made to prepare schools for the return of students. “On that basis, our priority now is to get all of our children back. It really is the best place for them, ”he said.
Schools should base their plans on a four-tier system, and the additional measures for secondary schools should take effect on tier two, according to guidelines released on Friday.
All schools remain open at the first level, while levels three and four imply stricter restrictions, e.g. B. the closure of all but students in vulnerable groups or children of key workers.
A second stage response results in secondary schools and colleges in a restricted area switching to a rota system, which means students spend two weeks on site, followed by two weeks at home.
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Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green told Sky News that the guidelines are long overdue and that the timing of information is unfair for principals and principals.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school principals' union, NAHT, said: "It was evident weeks ago that advice on the lockdown was needed," he said in a statement. "The government's decision to post this on Friday bank holiday weekend at 9 p.m., before most schools return, is downright reprehensible and shows that the welfare of school principals and their teams is being completely ignored."
Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said the council should have been available months ago and that schools would have to be "alone" if they had to organize distance learning.
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