CHILDREN have been working from kitchen tables once again this year, but with hopes of the national lockdown easing, kids could be returning to classrooms once again.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce the “roadmap” out of lockdown on February 22, so what is he expected to say for schools?
Students are learning from home once moreCredit: PA:Press Association
When will schools reopen in the UK?
England: From March 8
Boris Johnson has announced that schools will remain closed until at least March 8.
During Prime Minister’s Questions on February 10, Mr Johnson was asked if he could confirm that kids would be back in schools no later than March 8.
He responded: “I can certainly confirm that we’re going to do everything we can.
“I know that that is the settled will of most people in this House – to get our kids… schoolchildren back on March 8 if we possibly can.
“I will be setting out as much as we can say on Monday and then in the week of the 22nd we’ll be setting out a road map and setting out the way forward for schools.”
The Prime Minister dashed parents’ hopes of opening schools earlier than March 8 as he warned the level of infection is still “forbiddingly high” on February 3.
Boris slapped down calls from Tory MPs to go faster at getting kids back in the classroom after Scotland said their kids would go back from February 22.
He vowed not to open schools too soon as there was a huge risk the nation could be “forced into reverse”.
The PM added: “This is the cautious approach, it’s much better to stick to that.”
The PM vowed “the first sign of normality” would be schools reopening.
And said getting children back into classrooms was a “national priority”.
Scotland: From February 22
Primary and secondary schools as well as nurseries are currently closed in Scotland.
Pupils were initially due to go back to school from January 18 following a week of online learning.
But, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed remote learning would be extended until at least mid-February.
Schools will start to reopen in phases from Friday, February 22, supported by increased testing.
Pupils in Primary 1 to Primary 3 will be allowed back first, along with those at the end of secondary school.
The First Minister said older pupils will only be able to return to ensure practical work important to achieving qualifications is completed.
Only between five to eight per cent of school’s should be able to go back at once.
All children under school age in early learning and childcare can also return to education.
This will be confirmed on February 16.
Anyone working in schools or childcare settings, as well as older pupils, will be routinely tested twice a week.
Nicola Sturgeon said: “It is our intention that those who work in schools, and in early learning and childcare settings attached to schools, will be offered at-home testing twice a week. All senior-phase secondary school students will be offered this too.
“This testing offer will be in place for schools as soon as possible to support their return, and we will extend it to the wider childcare sector in the weeks after that.
“We are determined to get our children back to normal schooling just as quickly as it is safe to do so. It is our overriding priority.”
School classrooms were operating social distancing measures before being forced to close again in JanuaryCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Wales: From February 22
Some primary school pupils and students taking vocational courses, could return to classrooms in Wales after the February half-term as long as the Covid infection rate continues to fall.
However, the Welsh government has said the end of the lockdown is still many weeks away.
The Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, said a “phased and flexible” return to school for some pupils was being planned for the week beginning February 22.
He said the youngest children might be the first to return, as it was difficult for them to learn remotely and they were the least likely to catch the infection and pass it on.
Boris Johnson visits Bovingdon Primary AcademyCredit: Crown Copyright
Northern Ireland: Possibly March 8
Most pupils in Northern Ireland will not return to school until Monday, March 8, at the earliest, the Stormont Executive has agreed.
First Minister Arlene Foster said the ongoing public health situation meant remote learning must continue.
It may also be the case that only some year groups go back to school on March 8.
Mrs Foster said she recognised it would come as a “disappointment” for many parents and pupils.
She said: “The kitchen table is no substitute for the school desk.
“It is also important though that we give people a clear view of what is happening so we thought it was important to indicate today that we would not be back before 5 March in schools.”
Will it be compulsory to send my child back to school?
Yes. It will be against the law for all but a small number of exceptions to not send your kids back to school when they reoen.
In September 2020, Mr Johnson said it would be “the law” for kids to return to class.
He also said teaching unions – who didn’t want schools reopened due to safety fears – should “take their responsibilities seriously”.
Mr Johnson said: “It’s the kids from the poorer families who aren’t going back, and so you are entrenching social injustice.”
Kids who are exempt are those who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus – those who have compromised immune systems.
It is also strongly recommended that you ensure that your children’s other vaccinations are up to date.
How can I find out when my child’s school is reopening?
The best way to find out when your child’s school is reopening is by direct contact with the school and regular checks on the school’s website.
Your local council can also be a good source of information as it will likely know whether a school in its jurisdiction is set to reopen.
Local media such as newspapers and notices can also be of use.