politics

Schools reopening: Gavin Williamson says ‘low risk’ for kids as he confirms staggered starts & masks for March 8 return


CHILDREN will face an “incredibly low risk” from Covid when they return to school on March 8, Gavin Williams reassured parents tonight.

The Education Secretary confirmed rules including mask wearing in classrooms and staggered starts and finishes to the day will be put in place.

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Education Secretary Gavin Williamson

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Education Secretary Gavin WilliamsonCredit: PA:Press Association

Speaking at a No 10 press conference he insisted “everything is strongly in favour of children going to school”.

He said: “The scientific advice does support a full return for schools on the 8th of March.

“The risk to children is incredibly low from going to school and from catching Covid.

“We are supporting this return with a robust testing regime that will be critical in breaking the chains of Covid infection.”

It comes as…

Mr Williamson confirmed that secondary school students will be asked to wear masks in classrooms this term.

He said: “This is to help reduce transmission, the risk to children themselves is incredibly low.

“This is a temporary measure to support the safe return of schools and will be place until Easter when it’s reviewed.

“All the other safety measures that are already in place continue to be robust including bubble groups, staggered starts and staggered finishes, increasing ventilation and strict hygiene measures.

“The return to school is what we’ve been looking forward to. It’s time for children to be back in school learning and playing with their friends.

“Our whole nation has never before valued what schools, teachers, and education bring to all of our children more than it does today.

“We’ll all be so much willing for the successful return of all our children back to school.”

Schools are set to return on March 8
Schools are set to return on March 8
There are plans to help kids who have lost out from lockdown catch up
There are plans to help kids who have lost out from lockdown catch up

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries said face coverings are needed now in part because of the emergence of the Kent variant.

She said: “Face coverings are there to help others. We have a new variant and while we’re understanding that more, obviously taking additional precautions makes sense.

“We understand more about the ability for aerosol transmission. Things have moved on and it should be reassuring to know we look at the evidence and adjust our advice accordingly.”

She added that over time “over time school environments should be more or less free from infection” due to mass testing and the vaccination of adults.

Earlier Mr Williamson unveiled plans to pump £700 million into providing extra tuition for the kids who have lost out most during lockdown.

 

 

He said: “Our focus is very much in terms of welcoming children back on the 8th of March.

“It’s an incredibly important part of our unlocking the country but it also goes to confirm the national priority is our children and their education.

“We’ve always said schools would be the last to close and first to open and we’ve been absolutely true to our word.”

And the Education Secretary refused to rule out extending the school day or cutting short the summer break to help disadvantaged kids catch up.

Under the Government’s plans older students will need to be tested three times over their first fortnight back, subject to parents’ permission.

He said: “He’ll be looking at how we can boost and support children in a whole range of different manners.

“But it’s not just about time in school it’s about supporting teachers in terms of the quality of teaching and how we can help them.”

And he said secondary schools will be allowed to stagger students’ return to the classroom to help them cope with the challenge.

Mr Williamson said: “Schools are able to bring year groups in from 8 March depending on their capacity as to how they’re best able to do that.

“They’ve got a week to bring all those pupils back, so they can be tested during that week.

“If schools think they have the capacity to get pupils through by 8 March of course they can have them all there.

“All primary schools will be coming back on 8 March as well.”

He also revealed the Government will set out details of how teacher assessments will be used to replace exams this year tomorrow.

And he also insisted lockdown easing won’t be sped up despite demands from Tory MPs to go faster.

Gavin Williamson says ‘trust will be put in teachers’ for summer exams as lockdown is lifted





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