Parents will not be fined for keeping their children at home when schools reopen, the Government has confirmed.

Boris Johnson announced on Sunday that schools could reopen from June 1. A phased reopening of schools would begin with pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, the Government said.

More than 400,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Government to give parents the option of not sending their children back to school.

Since then, a Downing Street spokesperson told the Sun yesterday: "While we will not penalise (parents) for keeping children at home, once children are eligible to return to school we will strongly encourage them to do so."

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This has been reiterated in the Government's guidance online, which was last updated yesterday: "We strongly encourage children and young people in the eligible year groups and priority groups (such as children of critical workers) to attend, as requested by their school or college, unless they are self-isolating or there are other reasons for absence (such as shielding due to health conditions).

"You should notify your child’s school or college as normal if your child is unable to attend so that staff are aware and can discuss with you.

"Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time."

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At the end of April, Mr Johnson announced that the UK was officially past a coronavirus peak.

The Government said it would only allow children back into schools on several conditions, including that the rate of infection is decreasing.

It added that scientific evidence suggests children with coronavirus have less severe symptoms than adults, with younger children less likely to become unwell if infected.

When schools reopen, it said schools should limit the amount of contact between different groups of children - with smaller classes, for example.

All schools in the UK were told to partially close in March, just before the lockdown was announced on March 23. They remained open to children of key workers.