Boris Johnson has promised free school meals will continue as schools close, and more laptops will be dished out to pupils across the nation who need them in order to learn remotely.
The Prime Minister made the announcement last night in a televised address to the nation tonight as he again urged Brits to “stay at home”.
Schools are set to stay shut across the nation until at least February half-term, when measures will be reconsidered.
Nurseries, childcare centres and special schools will remain open and vulnerable children and children of key workers can continue to attend school.
Follow all the latest news and updates around school closures below…
VACCINE STRATEGY COULD SEE SCHOOLS REOPENING IN FEB
Boris Johnson last night said the Government aims to vaccinate everyone from the four most vulnerable groups by February.
Reaching the new vaccination target would help slash admissions and deaths ahead of spring, and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.
The ambitious plans would then allow the PM to start lifting strict lockdown rules later next month.
Easing of measures could see many schools re-opening after the February half-term.
But it would require the NHS to jab nearly 2 million Brits a week – eight times as many as the current rate.
BORIS ON SCHOOLS FLIP
The decision to take kids out of class once again comes just hours after millions returned following the Christmas break.
Mr Johnson said he “completely” understood “the inconvenience and distress this late change will cause millions of parents”.
“Parents whose children were in school today may reasonably ask why we didn’t take decision sooner,” he said.
“We have done everything in our power to keep schools open because we know how important each day in education is to children’s life chances.
“The problem is not that schools are unsafe for children – children are still very unlikely to be affected – it’s that schools may act as vectors and cause the virus to spread between households.”
‘FRUSTRATING AND ALARMING’
The Prime Minister said tonight: “We now have new variant and it’s been both frustrating and alarming to see speed with which it’s spreading.
“Scientists confirmed it’s between 50 and 70 per cent more transmissible, meaning you’re much more likely to catch it and to pass it on.
“Our hospitals are under more pressure than at any time since start of pandemic.”
LABOUR ‘U-TURN’ ON SCHOOLS
Kier Starmer this evening said Labour supported strict lockdown measures – including the closure of schools.
It comes after the Labour leader demanded all schools shut, adding: “The closure of schools is now inevitable.”
However, Guido Fawkes reports that this morning Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green tweeted: “We don’t think schools should close, we want schools to remain open, the right place for children to be if they can is safely in school.”
SCHOOLS HAVE TRIGGERED 3X MORE OUTBREAKS THAN HOSPITALS
New data revealed schools have triggered three times more Covid outbreaks than hospitals since October.
Reports revealed that 26 per cent of investigated Covid cases were linked to nursery schools, primaries, secondaries and universities over the 12 weeks to the end of December, according to Public Health England.
SCHOOL RULES AT A GLANCE
- Playgrounds will remain open but outdoor gyms, tennis courts and golf courses will be closed once again
- Schools are set to stay shut across the nation until at least February half-term
- Nurseries, childcare centres and special schools will remain open
- Students will not be able to return to university and will be told to study remotely from their current residency until at least the middle of next month.
- GCSEs, A-Levels and some other exams are set to be cancelled – with further announcements due to come
ENGLAND IN LOCKDOWN
NURSERIES WILL STAY OPEN
From tomorrow all primary schools, secondaries and colleges move to remote provision except for vulnerable and key worker kids.
Nurseries and special schools will remain open.
FREE SCHOOL MEALS TO CONTINUE
Free school meals will continue to go to those who need them as schools shut in the new national lockdown.
Boris Johnson also announced more laptops will be dished out to kids across the nation who haven’t got the ability to learn online at home.
across the nation who haven’t got the ability to learn online at home.
EVERY DAY AT SCHOOL COUNTS
Boris Johnson has insisted every day of learning counts after shutting schools on the same day as he insisted kids should head back to the classroom.
Mr Johnson said that it was not that schools were unsafe, but rather that they could spread coronavirus – and particualrly the new strain – between households.
Reflecting on children returning today following his encouragement, he said that every day of learning counts.
GCSES AND A LEVELS WILL NOT GO AHEAD AS PLANNED
GCSEs and A Levels will not be able to go ahead as planned.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson will work with exam board OFQUAL to organise alternatives.
‘SCHOOLS ARE NOT UNSAFE’
Boris Johnson has insisted tonight that schools are not unsafe for children.
They will be forced to close as England enters a new national lockdown.
He said that the problem was schools may “act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.”
SCHOOLS TO MOVE ONLINE
Schooling must move to remote teaching and learning as England enters a new national lockdown.
A new “stay at home” message is back in force across the country.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM TONIGHT’S PRESS CONFERENCE
Boris Johnson will make an announcement tonight at 8pm.
He is likely to introduce tougher lockdown measures, which will probably another national lockdown.
Here’s what to expect:
- Schools closed – possibly until the February half-term
- A strict ‘stay at home message,’ similar to March
- Working from home
- Blanket measures across the country, and Tiers scrapped (for now)
- Ban on household mixing
JEREMY HUNT ON SCHOOLS
SCHOOLS LIKELY TO SHUT IN NEW LOCKDOWN
A new national lockdown thought to be being announced this evening is likely to see schools closed.
Primary and secondary schools in England will be shut for at least a month – and possibly until February half-term, it is thought.
IAIN GRAY: ‘PRIORITISE SCHOOL STAFF FOR VACCINE’
Former Scottish Labour leader and teacher Iain Gray has implored UK leaders to prioritise school staff in the vaccine rollout.
He said: “Children need to learn,” urging governments of the four nations to put measures in place to protect “organised learning environments” for the current, and future pandemics and crises.
SCOTTISH SCHOOLS CLOSED
Scottish schools will be closed as part of the country’s new national lockdown.
They will be shut until at least the end of January – and perhaps longer – with only vulnerable children or key worker kids allowed to go in.
Vulnerable pupils and children of key workers will be allowed to go in as “transmission is simply too high”, but there will be a review in the coming weeks.
School staff will be on the list for vaccination.
WHERE SCHOOLS HAVE SHUT TODAY
UK CASES AND DEATHS
TEACHERS SAY IT IS UNSAFE TO WORK
Britain’s biggest teaching union, the National Education Union (NEU), today said teachers in 6,000 primary schools told them it’s unsafe to go to work.
Council leaders in Wolverhampton, Norfolk, Slough, Manchester, County Durham, Lancashire, Birmingham and Gateshead said they would support the decision of head teachers who do not think it is safe for the school to open.
And schools in Surrey, Gloucestershire, Newcastle, Norfolk, Liverpool, County Durham, West Sussex, Sheffield, Wolverhampton, Leeds and Lancashire all sent last-minute letters advising parents of closures.
STARMER ON SCHOOLS
Labour leader Keir Starmer demanded all schools shut as part of a new national shutdown in “the spirit of March” with the virus raging “out of control”.
He said: “The more we delay, the worse it will get. The longer we delay, the longer schools will be closed for.
“I’m afraid the closure of schools is now inevitable and therefore that needs to be part of… the national plan for further restrictions.”
TEACHERS IN WORCESTERSHIRE ‘LET DOWN’
Teachers from Kempsey Primary school in Worcestershire said they felt “let down”, as uncertainty continues around the reopening of England’s schools.
Year 4 teacher Tom Dalton told the PA news agency: “If I’m wearing my teaching hat I am thinking we have got to deliver the best quality education we can for these children.
“However, if I am thinking more from a selfish personal point of view, it’s really worrying being here. It doesn’t feel safe being here, so I’d like to do it remotely but I know they probably won’t get that same level of education as being face-to-face with the children.”
Megan Crosby, a year 1 teacher, said: “I would be surprised if I had a full class tomorrow. If education and schools are going to be the last things to go, then we need to be one of the first to be vaccinated.”
The school currently remains open, with a teacher training day today and children expected to return tomorrow.
376 MORE DEATHS IN ENGLAND
A further 376 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 51,813, NHS England said on Monday.
Patients were aged between 26 and 102. All except 18, aged between 34 and 102, had known underlying health conditions.
The deaths were between December 20 and January 3, with the majority being on or after 29 December.
There were 11 other deaths reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.