Schools to stay closed until January 18 at earliest in Wales

Schools and colleges in Wales will remain closed until at least January 18 and move to online learning, education minister Kirsty Williams has announced.

In a series of tweets, education minister Kirsty Williams said the Welsh Government, in consultation with the Welsh Local Government Association and further education charity ColegauCymru, ‘has just agreed that all schools and colleges will move to online learning until Monday January 18’.

‘Special schools should remain open if possible to support vulnerable learners,’ Ms Williams said.

‘The Welsh Government has provided funding to local authorities to ensure the continued provision of free school meals for eligible children.

‘You should contact you school or LA for more information.’

This evening Boris Johnson will set out emergency measures to control the spread of coronavirus amid concerns the NHS risks being overwhelmed.

The Prime Minister will make a televised address at 8pm on Monday after coming under intense pressure to announce a new national lockdown.

Parliament will be recalled on Wednesday and Downing Street said that the move was in response to the ‘rapidly escalating’ numbers of infections following the emergence of the new variant.

Government sources indicated the UK’s chief medical officers have agreed to raise the Covid-19 alert level to five – its highest – meaning ‘transmission is high or rising exponentially’ and ‘there is a material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed’.

The alert level is based on a recommendation by the Joint Biosecurity Centre to the chief medical officers.

The latest figures showed a further 407 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday and there were a record 58,784 more lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

A No 10 spokesman said: ‘The spread of the new variant of Covid-19 has led to rapidly escalating case numbers across the country.

‘The Prime Minister is clear that further steps must now be taken to arrest this rise and to protect the NHS and save lives.’

This is a breaking news story and is being updated with more information as we get it.

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