Secondary schools and colleges in areas of England with very high rates of Covid infection rates will not open to all pupils in January, the Education Secretary has said, as Covid-19 infection rates continue to soar across the country.
Face-to-face education will continue for only exam year pupils, vulnerable children and children of critical workers.
Remote learning will be given to all other students.
Meanwhile, primary schools in a “small number of areas” in England will not reopen as planned next week.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told Parliament that the “overwhelming majority” of primary schools will reopen as planned on 4 January, but a small number of areas where the infection rates are highest, will only have face to face teaching for vulnerable children and children of critical workers
‘Areas will be reviewed regularly’
The Education Secretary added that the decision not to fully reopen the primary schools in the high risk areas was being used “only as a last resort,” and that areas will be reviewed regularly so schools can open to all pupils as early as possible.
Williamson 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.
“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.”
The full list of areas will be published on the government’s website later today (30 Dec).
Start of term delayed in England
According to the Education Secretary, students in exam years will return to school on the week beginning 11 January, and all secondary and college pupils will go back full time on 18 January.
The decision has come, Williamson explained, to allow more time for every school to fully roll out testing for all pupils and staff.
The first week of term, beginning 4 January, will now be for secondary schools and colleges to prepare to test as many pupils, staff, and students for Covid-19 as possible.
Schools will only be open to vulnerable children and children of key workers.