Covid: 189,846 new cases reported in UK
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Over the course of the pandemic the Government has ordered schools to close on several occasions as a measure to reduce the impacts of Covid. Despite the rising number of Covid cases that have been reported across the UK in recent weeks, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resisted the urge to close schools once more and students will start to return next week.
When are students returning?
Some students in England are due to go back to school as early as next week.
By January 10 most students in the UK should have returned for the start of their January term.
Currently, students are expected to return to face-face learning at the start of 2022, despite record cases of Covid being reported in the UK.
The education minister Alex Burghart has said measures would be put in place in England to ensure “we have the best chance for the start of a normal school term”.
- Testing on return to school
- Increased vaccination uptake
- Improved classroom ventilation
- Enhanced hygiene
Guidance issued by the Department for Education also “strongly advises” that masks are worn in communal areas. However, at the moment this is not a compulsory measure.
The devolved Government for each country in the UK has the power to close schools down should they deem it necessary.
Yesterday, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said that some schools in Wales need to start planning for pupils to return to online learning.
Mr Drakeford said this switch was required for some students because of high levels of staff illness or absences.
However, he stated that these decisions would be left up to individual councils rather than the Welsh Government.
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Ahead of schools returning after Christmas the Welsh Government have urged institutions to take “two planning days” so that they could assess staffing levels and put in place any measures they deem necessary.
Meanwhile in Scotland, a number of Covid restrictions have been tightened in school settings but pupils are still expected to return in the New Year.
Examples of these rules include reducing school visitors, limits on school trips and an increase in guidance on ventilation in buildings.
Before students broke up for the Christmas break Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said she wants schools to remain open “if at all possible” to prevent further disruption to pupils’ learning.
To date, Government ministers have refused to rule out school closures due to the UK’s escalating Covid situation, which has been inflamed by the spread of the Omicron variant.
Mr Johnson is expected to decide in the next week whether more Covid restrictions need to be imposed – which could include school closures.
On New Year’s Eve, the UK reported its highest ever daily total of Covid cases – 189,846 – and has seen this record shattered numerous times over the festive period.
Hospitalisations are also rising, with a further 1,915 people admitted to hospital for treatment in the latest 24-hour period.
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