Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has told MPs that many school pupils will be delayed from returning to the classroom in the new year in order to allow for coronavirus testing preparations to take place.
The vast majority of primary schools will return from 4 January as originally planned, however, a small number of schools will remain closed in areas with the highest rates of COVID-19. Mr Williamson said this does not include all schools in Tier 4 areas. Schools are affected in most parts of London, parts of Essex and Kent, Hasting and Rother in East Sussex, Milton Keynes and parts of Hertfordshire.
Meanwhile, exam year students in secondary schools and colleges will see their return to the classroom delayed until the week of 11 January. Other secondary school and college students will see their return to the classroom delayed until 18 January.
Secondary schools and colleges will though be open to vulnerable children and children of key workers from 4 January and exam year pupils will receive remote learning from 4 January.
Secondary schools and colleges in areas with the highest virus infection rates will only open to vulnerable children, the children of key workers and children in exam-years, while remote education will be given to other students.
The change to the return dates for pupils comes as cases of COVID-19 are rising rapidly throughout much of the UK.
Just before Mr Williamson’s announcement on Wednesday afternoon, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that three-quarters of England would face Tier 4 ‘stay at home’ lockdown measures from 31 December.