March 8 will see children return to the classroom for the first time since January. The Government, which revealed its proposed roadmap out of lockdown yesterday, has reaffirmed its education commitments and promised an additional focus on bringing back social contact. But the changes won’t impact every student and schoolchild, as ministers have opted for a phased approach to reopening.
Who can go back on March 8?
Children, aside from those of key workers, are now six weeks into the spring term without having set foot into the classroom.
Experts had identified schools as vectors for COVID-19 transmission at the time, and the Government pulled children from education just one day after the Christmas holidays ended.
The Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown seeks to have them back in school by March 8, he will announce today.
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Dr Bousted added the Government could end up pushing the R-rate, one of its key tests for lockdown rules, above one, allowing to virus to spread “exponentially”.
She said: “This, in turn, could threaten the only Government Covid success story – the vaccine rollout – because of the potential for new variants, against which vaccines appear to be less effective, to spread quickly through schools, and into the community.
“Surely Boris Johnson has had enough of English exceptionalism.
“What is so different about Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who are taking a cautious, phased approach to school opening which enables their governments to assess the impact on the R rate and to make necessary adjustments to their plans?”
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In a statement ahead of today’s address, Mr Johnson said his cabinet had based the decision on “the latest data”.
He said: “Our priority has always been getting children back into school which we know is crucial for their education as well as their mental and physical wellbeing, and we will also be prioritising ways for people to reunite with loved ones safely.
“Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step, and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe.”
The Prime Minister’s plans will see others in England also enjoy some relaxed rules.
As pupils return to school, ministers will permit outdoor recreation with one other person.
The change could allow people to sit down together in a park for a picnic or drink.
Groups of up to six people from two households can meet from March 29, when children leave for their Easter holidays.
They can take advantage of organised sports, which return on the same day.