In Parliament yesterday Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that schools will not return after February half term and that we hope it will be safe to commence the reopening of schools from Monday 8 March If we achieve our target of vaccinating everyone in the four most vulnerable groups with their first dose by 15 February.
When will schools return?
Schools are open to vulnerable pupils and children of key workers while other pupils learn from home. We will not be fully re-opening schools and colleges to more pupils straight after half term. As the Prime Minister said, we understand how frustrating this can be is for parents, teachers and young people.
We will set out further details on our approach to opening schools and colleges to more pupils as part of the wider plan for leaving lockdown.
We hope it will be safe to start reopening schools and colleges more widely from 8 March, subject to the data.
Education is a national priority and we want schools, colleges and universities fully open as soon as the public health situation allows.
As confirmed by the PM we hope to get pupils & students back from 8 March.
A big Thank You to all staff for all you do for our young people
— Gavin Williamson (@GavinWilliamson) January 27, 2021
Why 8 March?
If we achieve our target of vaccinating everyone in the top 4 priority groups, including the most vulnerable, by 15 February, then those groups will have developed immunity from the virus by about three weeks later – that is 8 March.
Will this be a phased return or will all young people return at the same time?
We hope it will be safe to start increasing attendance in schools and colleges from 8 March – but how that happens is dependent on the data.
We will set out further details on our approach to opening schools and colleges to more pupils as part of our plan for leaving lockdown, which we will publish in mid-February.
Will you extend free school meals provision during this period? I’ve heard people in the media saying that they won’t?
Yes. People claiming otherwise are wrong and we want to make sure people understand there is support available to them.
As we are extending the period of remote learning beyond the middle of February, the government will continue to provide support for pupils who would normally receive Free School Meals until they have returned to the classroom. Schools will be able to continue providing lunch parcels, or vouchers either arranged locally or ordered through the national scheme.
Over the half term holiday, families can receive help with food or other essentials through the Covid Winter Grant Scheme.
Will you still give two weeks’ notice before schools and colleges open to more pupils and students?
Yes, as the Prime Minister said, we will ensure parents and teachers have as much certainty as possible, so we will give two weeks’ notice ahead of any change.
So we should expect another update towards the end of February?
Yes, as the Prime Minister set out earlier, we will have a clearer picture of the data by mid-February, at which point we will be able to set out a plan to bring the country out of lockdown.
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About the Education in the media blog
Education in the media is the Department for Education’s blog on the latest topical education and equalities issues. This blog features a review of leading media stories, rebuttal to news stories, as well as Ministerial comment.
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