Secondary school term delayed by two weeks across England

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LONDON: Secondary schools across most of England are to remain closed for an extra two weeks for most pupils, to help regain control of coronavirus. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told the Commons that exam-year pupils would return a week earlier than their schoolmates in the week of 11 January. But in a small number of areas with the highest infection rates, primaries will remain closed temporarily, BBC has reported.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson

Mr Williamson said temporary shutdowns would cut chains of transmission. It comes after most of England was put into the toughest Tier 4 restrictions. It follows warnings from medics about pressure on hospitals, and from government scientists about the increasing contagiousness of the new strain of coronavirus.

Mr Williamson said the delay in reopening secondary schools would allow head teachers to develop and set up mass testing plans for their pupils. It is a significant step, as ministers have repeatedly stated that schools would remain open – and even threatened council areas which wanted to close their schools early for Christmas with legal action.

However, schools were struggling to remain Covid-safe during the autumn term, despite the intense efforts of teachers and staff, with huge numbers of pupils contracting the virus and then being sent home.

All primary schools had been due to fully reopen on 4 January, along with secondary schools opening for vulnerable children and those sitting exams this year (Years 11 and 13). Remaining secondary school pupils were to start term working remotely from home. Effectively the whole process has been shunted back a week. This is two weeks after the usual start of term.