Pressure grows for fixed date for schools to re-open

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said schools will need to offer remote learning until at least mid-February.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said schools will need to offer remote learning until at least mid-February. - Credit: Pixabay

Calls are being made to end uncertainty over when schools will re-open with a phased return and regional variations mooted as options.

All schools closed on January 5 to all but the children of keyworker and vulnerable children under the third national lockdown, meaning most children are now learning remotely at home.

The Government has said schools will not return until after the February half term at the earliest, with some sources indicating it will not be until after Easter in early April.

The chairman of the education select committee, Robert Halfon, has asked for a plan to be laid out in the Commons.

Mr Halfon, Conservative MP for for Harlow, tweeted that he had asked to table an urgent question on the matter.

If the request is granted, an education minister will need to respond to his queries.

Mr Halfon told BBC Breakfast there was "enormous uncertainty", with reports that schools would not reopen before Easter.

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He called for the government to set out "what the conditions need to be" for pupils to return to schools.

"The government should come to parliament and explain to the public, to teachers, support staff, parents, who are incredibly worried," he said.

"There are enormous pressures on parents at the moment, some of them are giving up their jobs or working part time, they are losing income because they have to stay at home to look after their children, they need to know what is going on."

Mr Halfon suggested the government could consider tighter restrictions in other parts of society and the economy, in order to enable schools to open.

Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey told BBC Breakfast the prime minister was "very keen" for pupils to return as soon as possible and she hoped the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) would be in a position to decide whether teachers and support workers should be moved up the vaccination priority list by mid-to-late February.

On Sunday (January 24) Health Secretary Matt Hancock told The Andrew Marr show he hoped schools could go back safely after Easter but that it depended on the data and that cases had to come down first.