Sunday, 20 Sep 2020

Single mum in legal fight to stop Government forcing pupils back to school

A single mother will attempt to stop the Government forcing children back to school next month by bringing a legal challenge.

Jennifer Dunstan, 40, is demanding parents be given the right to choose whether their children should attend school, launching a claim for a judicial review of the decision on the grounds that some families are more at risk of catching coronavirus.

Ms Dunstan, who has an autoimmune disease, previously vowed to ‘save every penny she has’ to pay fines of up to £120 for not sending her son Rio back to class.

The Sheffield woman is more vulnerable to Covid-19 and fears her son, nine, would have no one to care for him if she dies or becomes seriously ill. She also worries her son, who has Asperger’s, will lose his place in a special needs school if she decides not to send him back.

A letter before claim will be served at Downing Street this week, the Mirror reported.

The Government will have days to respond before Ms Dunstan decides to proceed with legal action.

She said: ‘Very soon the Government will be reopening all schools to all pupils, and everybody will be going back to class. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

‘But it’s not so simple if you have a life-limiting disability. It’s not so simple if you’re a lone parent.’

An online petition against the school plan has so far been signed by more than 107,000 people.

Ms Dunstan said it ‘wasn’t fair’ that all pupils were returning to school regardless of family circumstances.

She added: ‘We’re at high risk of developing complications if our children go to school, and we’re at risk of fines if we keep them home.

‘The bottom line is if I get this virus, if I’m taken seriously poorly, or God forbid, worse, there’s nobody that can look after my son.’

The schools minister, Nick Gibb, has previously said fines were always a ‘last resort’, but confirmed they would still be available for headteachers to hand out if pupils are prevented from going to school.

Boris Johnson has also said everyone had a ‘moral duty’ to ensure children returned to school because they had been out of the classroom for too long.

Metro.co.uk has approached the Department for Education for comment.

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