The government is pushing ahead with plans for primary school and older secondary school children to return to classrooms next week – although a senior minister admitted “we always keep things under review”.
There have been calls for the return of pupils to be delayed after the Christmas holidays, in a bid to cut COVID-19 transmission.
But Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove told Sky News that the government remained committed to its plan for pupils to return from 4 January under a staggered schedule.
“Our plan is that primary schools will go back but with secondary schools it will be the case that next week only children in Year 11 and Year 13 – those who are doing their GCSEs, their BTECs, their A-levels – those will go back,” he said.
“And also children of key workers and children who are vulnerable and need the support and care that schools that can provide.
“Other children in secondary schools won’t go back for a week after that.”
However, asked if the government could be flexible in its plans for schools to return, Mr Gove added: “We always keep things under review but teachers and headteachers have been working incredibly hard over the Christmas period, since schools broke up, in order to prepare for a new testing regime – community testing in order to make sure that children and all of us are safer.
“So we do keep things under review but that is the plan.”