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Later return for secondary schools as Government announces new term plans

Later return for secondary schools as Government announces new term plans

The Government outlined its plans for the safe reopening of English schools after the Christmas break today (Wednesday) afternoon.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said ‘the overwhelming majority’ of primary schools will open on Monday (January 4).

But he added that in ‘a small number of areas where the infection rates are highest’, only vulnerable and key worker children will attend face-to-face.

A list of school closures by area are due to be published on the Government website this evening.

According to reports, there are no schools in the Royal Borough, Slough and Buckinghamshire Council areas that are on the list of primary schools due to close for most students as of January 4. 

In secondary schools, all pupils in exam years will return week beginning January 11, with all secondary and college pupils going back a week later, on January 18.

Mr Williamson clarified that during the first week of term after January 4, secondary schools and colleges will prepare to test as many staff and students as possible and will only be open to vulnerable and key worker children.

The military will provide virtual training to help with testing, he added.

Secondary schools and colleges in areas of England with very high infection rates will not open to all pupils in January.

Universities have been asked to reduce the number of students who return to campuses in England at the start of next month.

All higher education students will receive two tests on their return in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“We must always act swiftly when circumstances change,” Mr Williamson told MPs. 

“The evidence about the new COVID variant and rising infection rates, have required some immediate adjustment to our plans for the new term.

“This is a rapidly shifting situation but some things remain constant. We continue to act to preserve lives and safeguard the NHS. And we continue to protect education by putting children first."

He added: “We must continue to do all we can to keep children in school. Taking all of these factors into account means we have had to make a number of changes for the new term, in order to help with breaking chains of transmission and to assist with keeping all of our children and education settings as safe as we can.”

It was also announced in the Commons earlier that the Royal Borough would continue to be placed in Tier 4 COVID restrictions.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said that millions more people in England would be joining the borough in the toughest category as of tomorrow (Thursday). 

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