Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announces delay in reopening of schools

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced that all pupils in exam years will return to secondary schools in England from January 11 as coronavirus case rates continue to rise across the country.

Meanwhile, the rest of secondary and college students will go back full-time on January 18.

He told the Commons it was a “last resort” that some schools needed to close where infection rates are highest.

He said: “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.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson delivers a statement on the return of schools after the Christmas break in England, in the House of Commons, Westminster. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 30, 2020.

“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.

“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.”

He said that only vulnerable children and children of key workers will receive face-to-face teaching in the first week of term.

This is to allow focus on establishing testing throughout the first week of term and exam year groups will continue to have lessons remotely in line with what they would receive in class.

Earlier, Secretary of Health Matt Hancock announced three quarters of the country will be placed under Tier 4 on New Year’s Eve.