Government 'confident' schools will have staggered January start

Do you think schools should close early for Christmas? Picture: PA Wire/PA Images/Jane Barlow

Schools are due to reopen under a staggered start in January. - Credit: PA

The government says it hopes the planned staggered reopening of schools will still go ahead in January.

Officials from Downing Street and the Department for Education are due to discuss the issue on Monday amid concerns over the spread of a new strain of coronavirus.

Earlier this month, the government said exam-year students would go back to school as normal after the Christmas holidays, but the majority of secondary school pupils would start the term online to allow headteachers to roll out mass testing of children and staff.

Handout photo issued by 10 Downing Street of Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove speaking d

Cabinet office minister Michael Gove. - Credit: PA

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, cabinet office minister Michael Gove said the government was confident primary school pupils, schildren of key workers and Year 11 and Year 13 pupils in England would be able to return in the first week of January, with the rest going back later in the month.

"It is our intention to make sure we can get children back to school as early as possible," he said.
"We are talking to teachers and headteachers in order to make sure we can deliver effectively. But we all know that there are trade-offs.

"As a country we have decided - and I think this is the right thing to do - that we prioritise children returning to school.

"But we have a new strain and it is also the case that we have also had, albeit in a very limited way, Christmas mixing, so we do have to remain vigilant.

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"We are confident that we will be able to get schools back in good order. Our plan and our timetable is there, and we are working with teachers to deliver it."

Scientists have suggested that the mutated coronavirus strain could more easily infect children.
The National Education Union has previously said the Government should allow schools to move classes online for most pupils for a fortnight in January to allow Covid-19 cases to fall.

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