School closures warning: Pupils to stay at home until EASTER – huge pressure mounts on PM | UK | News
Boris Johnson earlier this month ordered schools to shut until the February half-term after teaching unions warned it was unsafe for staff to return to classrooms. Now, there are fears children will not resume in-person learning until after the Easter holidays in April.
According to the Sun, schools in Covid hotspots across England could stay closed for even longer – meaning pupils will have endured an entire year of major disruption to their education.
Conservative MP Robert Halfon has urged Mr Johnson to put children first and get them back to school next month.
The chairman of the education select committee, said: “The government said that schools would reopen after the February half term.
“Everything possible should be done to keep to that date – for the sake of the children’s education, mental health and safety.
“That is why ministers should prioritise school staff for the vaccine, and send in mobile units to jab them across the country.”
On Monday a teaching boss warned the “mood music” is that schools will not welcome pupils back until after Easter.
Steve Chalke, head of Oasis Academy Trust, told the Sun: “I don’t think schools will reopen until post Easter.
READ MORE: Once again teachers’ unions actions hit poorest hardest – COMMENT
Education insiders issued similar warnings, saying the date of reopening for schools “was never going to be” the February half-term.
Speaking in the Commons earlier today, Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, said the Government has presided over “one of the world’s largest procurements of laptops and tablets” so students can work effectively remotely.
He told MPs: “By December, we had procured and delivered 560,000 laptops and tablets. In November last year we ordered an additional 340,000 devices, bringing our total procurement to one million laptops and tablets.
“This has been one of the world’s largest procurements of laptops and tablets, and it has happened despite intense global demand.
“We do recognise that despite the million laptops and tablets commitment we wanted to go further, and this year we have already ordered a further 300,000 devices on top of our current order.
“Already, three-quarters of a million computers are in the hands of schools and disadvantaged young people.
“All this is in addition to the 1.9 million laptops and one million tablets that schools already have – most of which can be lent out to those pupils who need (them) the most.”
And Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said ministers would need to continue watching the Covid data as they make a decision on when it would be safe to bring children and teachers back to schools.
Asked to confirm whether restrictions will start to be lifted and schools will reopen in early March, Mr Hancock said: “We’ve got to watch the data and the Prime Minister, when he brought in the national lockdown, set out four considerations.”