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Schools could stay shut until May as 'ministers rethink February restart'

Pupils could continue learning from home until after Easter, as education leaders say they don’t expect schools to reopen until May.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is expected to make an announcement in the coming days, having previously stated that parents would have at least two weeks notice before classrooms reopen.

But now a Government source has claimed the nation will remain in the current homeschooling set-up ‘for the long haul’ amid fears over new Covid variants. The virus mutation is believed to be up to 70% more infectious and 30% more deadly than other strains.

The source told The Times: ‘We are going to start giving parents more information so they can start managing their expectations. Although we have not arrived at an exact date when we think schools will go back, it will not be after half-term.’

Kevin Courtney, co-general secretary of the National Education Union, also told the publication that reopening schools after Easter seemed to be ‘optimistic’. He noted that children may only return to the classroom as ‘late as May’.

His words were echoed by Steve Chalke, who is the founder of the Oasis academy trust. He also agreed that schools would not be able to ‘reopen fully’ after half-term, noting that it may be possible after Easter.

A No 10 source said scientists were in favour of pushing back the return date as far as possible. They added: ‘One thing is for sure — we will not risk coming out of this lockdown if there is any risk that we will be plunged into another.’

Williamson had previously noted that he hoped schools would be able to welcome pupils back before the Easter holidays – but said he couldn’t guarantee this would happen.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme earlier this week: ‘I want to see them, as soon as the scientific and health advice is there, open at the earliest possible stage – and I certainly hope that would be certainly before Easter.’

It comes amid reports the Government has only handed out 700,000 of a planned 1,3 million laptops it pledged disadvantaged pupils’ would receive while learning from home.


Several schools are now working on a plan to vaccinate the UK’s entire teaching staff in a bid to get children back into the classroom as soon as possible.

The scheme would involve 150 independent schools and state academies becoming vaccination hubs, with school workers getting the jab during 16 hour days of vaccinations.

Those who drew up the plan claim that medical workers could get through ‘most or even all’ of the one million school and nursery teachers, teaching assistants and support staff, including dinner ladies and caretakers in England, within a week.

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