Boris Johnson has said schools, colleges and nurseries in England will stay open during the second lockdown.
But Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT school leaders’ union, said the announcement on Saturday evening will not have inspired public confidence, and many families could be left wondering what is safe.
The latest Government figures show that school attendance dropped from 89 per cent to 86 per cent in the week ahead of the October half-term break. Around 82 per cent of secondary school pupils were in class on October 22, while attendance in primary schools dropped to 90 per cent.
Mr Whiteman has said it is likely that more pupils will stay at home as term restarts – and he has called on the Government to remove parental fines for non-attendance in light of the national restrictions.
He said: “The rushed, last-minute nature of the lockdown announcement on Saturday will not have done anything to inspire public confidence.
“Families will be left wondering about the safety of their children and relatives, and we could see attendance figures drop when term restarts as families are left guessing about what is safe and what isn’t.
“We have already recommended that the Government removes the threat of attendance fines for families this term. Now we are heading back into lockdown rather than out of it, as many of us had hoped by now, the Government absolutely must take fines off the table.”