Schools to reopen on 8 March in England - what Boris Johnson said
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that schools in England will not reopen to all pupils immediately after the February half term holidays, as originally proposed.
Instead, Monday 8 March has been announced as the new date the Government hopes all pupils will return to school.
Currently, only children of key workers and vulnerable children are attending school, with the remaining students studying at home.
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The Prime Minister told the Commons that the UK remains in a “perilous situation, with more than 37,000 patients now in hospital with Covid - almost double the peak of the first wave”.
However, Mr Johnson told MPs the reopening schools was a "national priority" and that “the first sign of normality beginning to return should be pupils going back to their classrooms.”
“I know how parents and teachers need as much certainty as possible including two weeks' notice of the return of face-to-face teaching,” he added.
Mr Johnson also recognised that "closures have had a profound impact on learning which will take more than a year to catch-up,” and said that the Government “will work with teachers and parents to develop a long term plan to make up their learning over the course of this parliament."
Route out of lockdown to be announced in February
Mr Johnson said that the Government hopes that by mid-February, more will be known about the effect of Covid vaccines in preventing hospital admissions and deaths.
The Government intends to set out plans regarding a “gradual and phased” route out of lockdown in the week beginning 22 February.
However, “that plan will, of course, depend on the continued success of our vaccination programme, the capacity of the NHS, and on deaths falling at the pace we would expect as more people are inoculated,” Mr Johnson said.
The Prime Minister also laid out the new border restrictions for travellers arriving in the UK from certain countries.
He said: “We have also banned all travel from 22 countries where there is a risk of known variants including South Africa, Portugal and South American nations.
“And in order to reduce the risk posed by UK nationals and residents returning home from these countries, I can announce that we will require all such arrivals who cannot be refused entry to isolate in Government provided accommodation, such as hotels, for 10 days without exception.
“They will be met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine. The Department of Health and Social Care is working to establish these facilities as quickly as possible.”