Primary schools reopening: Williamson stumbles as 50 areas in England have no return date

Gavin Williamson grilled on reopening of primary schools

Parents across England have been hit with the news of a delayed start to term time after millions of areas were plunged into Tier 4 coronavirus restrictions. Primary schools in 50 areas within London, Essex, Kent, East Sussex, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire will not reopen for face-to-face teaching to all pupils as planned next week. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was grilled by Sky News host Gamal Fahnbulleh on this latest development.

Mr Williamson said: “Over 85 percent of primary schools will be reopening absolutely as expected on January 4.

“For those schools within the contingency framework where, as a result of public health advice, we’ve delayed their opening, that’s for a two-week period.

“There’ll be a review of that status for the week before.

“Obviously we want to give schools the notice, and parents importantly the notice, and children, that hopefully their schools will be reopening.”

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He continued: “But we’ll be seeing over 85 percent of primary schools opening on January 4.

“We want to see those schools that are sadly not able to open on January 4 to be opening at the earliest possible moment.”

Mr Fahnbulleh interjected about the 50 areas that don’t have a return as of yet, which is a “significant number”.

The Education Secretary shot back: “The work that was done with the Department for Health who identified areas where it was either a very high rate or, using their latest data, was seeing very sharp increases in the number of cases, or equally the pressures on hospitals in those areas and the clinical needs, these were all the considerations that were taken into account.”

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Mr Williamson added: “I want to see any school that’s closed for those first two weeks opening at the earliest possible opportunity.

“I don’t want to see any schools closed, as you can imagine, as Education Secretary, but we only do this in the most extreme situations where the public health advice, the scientific advice, is that we need to do it.

“I want to see every child in school getting that great education, that’s why we’re rolling out this mass testing regime in secondary schools.”

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Exam year students will now return on January 11 while other secondary students will return the following week.

Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green told Sky News: “It’s really regrettable that the Government can’t tell anyone when those schools will reopen.

“There must be a real concern for the parents of those children about their children’s learning, and also about how long they’re going to have to make arrangements for their children to be looked after at home.”

The changes comes as daily deaths from coronavirus were recorded at their highest number since April and hospitals are reportedly feeling the pressure.

The Prime Minister announced that 78 percent of the population will now be in Tier 4 as of today.

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