Tier 4 restrictions are in place across 78 percent of England, as Covid cases continue to soar. Now pupils of some schools face a delay to teaching as some of the areas with the highest rates of infection are not permitted to open next week. Express.co.uk explains the new rules below.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told the Commons it was a “last resort” that some schools needed to close where infection rates are highest.
He added: “We’ll be opening the majority of primary schools as planned on Monday, January 4.
“We know how vitally important it is for younger children to be in school for their education, wellbeing and wider development.
“In a small number of areas where the infection rates are highest we will implement our existing contingency framework such as only vulnerable children and children of critical workers will attend face to face.
Read More: School closures: Teachers ‘so scared’ about heading back to work
“We will publish this list of areas today on the GOV.UK website. I’d like to emphasise that this is being used only as a last resort.
“This is not all Tier 4 areas and that the overwhelming majority of primary schools will open as planned on Monday.”
Laying out the plans for the return of pupils to secondary schools after the Christmas break, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “In secondary schools, all vulnerable children and children of critical workers will go back next week across England as originally planned, but we will ask exam year pupils in secondary to learn remotely during the first week of term and return to the classroom from January 11.
“The remaining secondary school pupils – non-exam groups – will go back a week later, that is from January 18.”
Is there a full list of schools closed in January 2021?
Yes, several areas across England will see primary schools closed for the first week of term this January.
And it was announced on Friday the government has decided to close all primary schools in London for the next two weeks to counter the rapid spread of a more infectious variant of the Covid-19 virus, the capital’s mayor said on Friday.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said on Twitter: “The Government have finally seen sense and u-turned. All primary schools across London will be treated the same.
“This is the right decision – and I want to thank education minister Nick Gibb for our constructive conversations over the past two days.”
These are the areas where it is expected that primary schools will not open as planned next week to all pupils:
- Epping Forest
- Castle Point
- Southend on Sea
- Tonbridge and Malling
- Tunbridge Wells
- Three Rivers
Mr Johnson said unless schools were in areas of very high infection rates, parents should allow their children to return.
Speaking from Downing Street he said: “Schools are safe, the problem is not the schools.
“Send your children, send your family to school in the normal way, absolutely right to do.”
The Prime Minister added the measures surrounding schools were to “combat… the mixing that naturally takes place in schools”.
The new restrictions and changes to schools going back comes after the news the UK approved the latest coronavirus vaccine – the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
Mr Johnson told the Downing Street briefing the Oxford vaccine and one from Pfizer were being rolled out, adding: “We are working as hard and as fast as we can to get the supplies to you.”
But he said: “We have to face the fact that we’ve got two big things happening at once in our fight against Covid – one’s working for us and one’s working against us.
“On the plus side, we have got two valid vaccines, and we’re racing to get them out – and on the bad side there is a new strain of the virus which is spreading much faster and surging across the country.”
However, the Prime Minister said it was “very frustrating we’re in a position where we’ve got a new strain of the virus surging in the UK” but he was “also filled with hope by the arrival of this new British-made vaccine”.
He said: “It really is potentially a real cause of optimism around the world, this AstraZeneca vaccine because it can be delivered at room temperature, doesn’t have the logistical challenges of other vaccines which need to be kept refrigerated at -70c.
“I think it can get to places that can’t currently be reached and offers real, real hope across the world in fighting this pandemic.”
The Prime Minister described his emotions as “a mixture of frustration plus optimism equals whatever, grit and determination or something like that”.