PARENTS will find out if schools will open after half term next week – as Gavin Williamson promised at least two weeks’ notice would be given.
But it’s looking highly unlikely they will return after the February break as Education Secretary could only said he “hopes” kids can get back in the classroom by EASTER – but couldn’t make a guarantee.
He said any decision would be made on the scientific advice.
The Government has said they review the national lockdown around February 15 – but it’s likely that schools will be closed after that.
If the Government are to open schools after the half-term break as they promised, an announcement would have to come next week.
But ministers think this is unlikely and schools will have to remain shut for longer.
Speaking this morning, Mr Williamson vowed that “schools will be the first to open” and the decision will be taken “as soon as the scientific advice is there”.
He said: “My enthusiasm to see them open will ensure that if we can get schools open at the earliest moment, then that is what we’ll be doing.
“We’ll give teachers and parents time to prepare and give them good notice of it. But we want to see school children back.
“We’d aim to give teachers, pupils and parents two weeks’ notice so they’re able to get ready and we’ll always be looking for how we can get schools open for all at the earliest possible moment.”
“I would certainly hope that that would be certainly before Easter.
“Any decision to open schools to all children is based on the best health advice and the best scientific advice.”
For that a decision would have to be made in mid-March, raising the prospect of the PM reintroducing a November-style lockdown with schools open but everything else still shut.
It came as:
- Mr Williamson said the lockdown WAS having some effect on reducing pressures on the health service and bringing down cases
- Britain suffered its worst ever death figures yesterday- with more than 1,600 deaths from Covid recorded
- It was revealed that Brits are ‘jumping Covid vaccine queue’ to nab appointments meant for NHS staff shared on WhatsApp
Mr Williamson said one of the “key criteria” for reopening schools would be whether the pressure on the NHS was lifting.
And he said lockdown is working, despite a survey from Imperial College London showing new infections had not fallen in the first days of lockdown.
“The evidence that we’ve been seeing is that it’s actually, it has been having an impact in terms of relieving some of that pressure on the NHS,” Mr Williamson told Sky News.
The Education Secretary called for teachers to be bumped up the priority list for vaccines so children can be back in classrooms as soon as possible.
He said: “We very much hope that, you know, the vital important work that teachers and teaching staff, and support staff do, I would very much like to them up that list.”
Mr Williamson announced an extra 1.3 million laptops and electronic devices will also be distributed to families to help with home learning.
The Education Secretary also brushed off calls by the opposition to resign following a series of policy U-turns.
“My real focus is making sure that children get back into school at the earliest possible opportunity,” he told Sky News.
“Schools were the last to close and schools will very much be the first to reopen.”
HOAR revealed earlier this week schools are likely to stay shut until at least Easter due to high case numbers and death rates.