Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced a delay in pupils returning to school for the new term in England.
During the first week of term after 4 January, secondary schools and colleges will prepare to test as many staff and students as possible and will only be open to vulnerable children and children of key workers.
Military personnel will provide virtual training to help with testing, with teams on standby to provide in-person support if needed.
Secondary aged pupils and those in colleges will see a staggered return to education with those in years 11 and 13 who will be sitting exams returning on 11th of January
Remaining Secondary school and college pupils will return on 18th January with a full-scale testing programme in place.
Those schools in the worst affected areas will not open at all in January, other than for those in exam years (11 and 13), vulnerable and children of critical workers receiving face to face education. Remote education will be given to all other students.
The overwhelming majority of Primary Schools will open as planned on Monday the 4th of January, there will be some exceptions in the worst affected areas, this won’t be all Tier 4 areas.
The rise seen in Coronavirus cases across the country as well as more areas being placed under tougher restrictions has forced the move.
It comes after government health advisers suggested schools may have to close to allow the new, more contagious coronavirus strain to be suppressed.
Teaching Unions had also been calling for the delay to give time for mass testing programmes to be set up in schools.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told the Commons that the education of Children has always been ‘an absolute priority’ for the government and keeping schools open is ‘uppermost in all of our plans’. However, he said ‘we must always act swiftly when circumstances change’ and evidence about the new Covid variant and rising infection rates require ‘immediate adjustments’ to plans for the new school term.