Schools won’t all shut early for Christmas despite Covid variant as No10 dismisses calls

The Government will only close schools if they had “absolutely no choice” and all other options had been exhausted. Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said the classroom is the best place for kids to be

Schools will not have to shut early for Christmas this year despite fears of the new Covid variant Omicron spreading through corridors.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the Government will keep schools open until they had “absolutely no choice” but to close the institutions down.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi reiterated a school shutdown would be the last possible option in tackling the Omicron variant.

He told ITV’s This Morning programme people should “carry on” organising nativities and Christmas concerts.

And added: “Keep schools open: do all the things necessary, like face masks in communal areas… to protect the education in the classroom.”

Face coverings have been made mandatory for staff and pupils in Year 7 and above, colleges and universities when in communal areas outside of the classroom in a bid to give scientists time to assess Omicron.

The Prime Minister is not looking to close schools before Christmas


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From today it is expected that students and staff were the masks in spaces like corridors, canteens and halls in England.

Scientists are expected to make a decision this afternoon on whether to extend the Covid vaccine booster programme to everyone aged 18 and over.

The Omicron variant carries a higher risk of reinfection according to data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), but it is not yet clear how transmissible it is or whether vaccines can reduce its strength.

Children at a primary school in Essex are being tested for the new Omicron variant of coronavirus after a person was confirmed to have contracted the variant.

So far three cases of the variant have been detected in England. On Sunday in a person with travel links to southern Africa who visited Westminster before leaving the country.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said children would not be exempt from isolating for 10 days after coming into contact with the new coronavirus variant.

Asked if children could be made exempt, he said: “That’s not what we are proposing. We believe our measures strike the balance between keeping children in face-to-face learning while ensuring education settings remain as safe as possible while we investigate this new variant.

“As I’ve said before, education remains one of our top priorities. So obviously we’ll keep all measures under review.”

And dismissing ideas of school shutdowns, he said: “We’ve seen how disruptive some of the restrictions can be and we’ve always taken steps to keep schools open until we have absolutely no other choice.”

Six cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in Scotland and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon believes there has been evidence of community transmission.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said he had no evidence of that in England.

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