Schools will not reopen before 8 March, PM says

Date published: 27 January 2021

Schools will not be able to reopen after next month’s half-term break, but could from 8 March, the Prime Minister has said.

In an update, Boris Johnson said a final decision would depend on meeting the vaccination targets.

He told the House of Commons that pupils returning to class would be “the first sign of normality” and that he hoped other lockdown restrictions could then begin to be gradually eased. Death and hospitalisation numbers, progress of vaccinations and changes in the virus will all be factors taken into account.

Schools will get two weeks’ notice to reopen after the government makes its decision.

Mr Johnson said: "Reopening schools must be our national priority and 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. For the reasons I have outlined, it will not be possible to reopen schools immediately after the February half term.

"I know how frustrating that will be for pupils and teachers who want nothing more than to get back in the classroom and for parents and carers who have spent so many months juggling their day jobs not only with home schooling but with meeting the myriad other demands of their children from breakfast until bedtime. And I know too the worries we all share about the mental health of our young people during this prolonged period of being stuck at home.

"So our plan for leaving the lockdown will set out our approach towards reopening schools.

"If we achieve our target of vaccinating everyone in the four most vulnerable groups with their first dose by 15 February – and every passing day sees more progress towards that goal – then those groups will have developed immunity from the virus by about three weeks later, that is by 8 March.

"We hope it will therefore be safe to commence the reopening of schools from Monday 8 March, with other economic and social restrictions being removed thereafter as and when the data permits."

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