A crunch meeting will be held on Monday over whether to reopen schools in January – with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson reportedly telling allies he’s facing a “enormous battle”.
The under-fire cabinet minister – who stayed in post despite overseeing last summer’s A-level results debacle – is said to be keen to get schools back to normal.
But scientists are calling for a full lockdown – with a crunch meeting between officials from Downing Street and the Department for Education being held next week.
Experts have warned that closing schools may be the only way to keep the new mutant coronavirus strain under control.
A source told the Sunday Telegraph: “Gavin is trying to keep them open, which is why he rolled out the testing stuff early.
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“He’s facing an enormous battle. It’s the lockdowners [he’s fighting].”
On Saturday 34,693 more cases were announced by the Department of Health – meaning more than 250,000 people have tested positive in the UK over the past seven days – a 45 per cent increase compared to the week before.
No decision has yet been made on reopening schools, but questions are being asked about the disruption closures would cause for exams, the Telegraph reports.
It comes amid warnings that pupils in coronavirus hotspots face unfair disadvantages if schools keep on closing because pupils and staff have to isolate.
Boris Johnson has repeatedly said that keeping schools and colleges open is a top priority for the government.
Before Christmas the government threatened to take local authorities to court if they allowed schools to close early.
A top scientist today warned that all of England should be placed into Tier 4 measures to save lives.
There are now more Covid patients in UK hospitals than at any other time during the pandemic – and the average number of new infections every day is more than 30,000.
Dr Zubaida Haque, who sits on Independent Sage, today questioned why the government haven’t placed the whole country in the harshest tier of restrictions to save lives.
The Sage scientist tweeted today: “Given that we surpassed 70,000 #COVID19 deaths in UK on Christmas Day, and there are now more patients with coronavirus in hospital than at any point in the pandemic, why hasn’t the government implemented #tier4 restrictions everywhere in the UK? @IndependentSage are very worried.