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Covid-19: Gove 'confident' schools can reopen in England

Reported by lily | December 28th, 2020 @ 11:05 PM

Covid-19: Gove 'confident' schools can reopen in England

But Mr Gove said the issue was still being reviewed, amid concern over the spread of the new coronavirus variant.

Wales and Scotland have delayed or revised the start of the new term. Northern Ireland schools are due back next week.

Ministers have said exam year pupils in England would return as normal.

But the majority of secondary school pupils in England are due to begin the term studying remotely, to give head teachers time to implement a coronavirus testing programme for students and staff.

Mr Gove told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he still expected Year 11 and Year 13 pupils to return in the first week of January, with the rest going back to the classroom later in the month.

"It is our intention to make sure we can get children back to school as early as possible," he said.

He said that prioritising children's attendance in school was "the right thing to do" but he acknowledged concerns about the new variant, which scientists believe may be more transmissible.

"We have a new strain and it is also the case that we have also had, albeit in a very limited way, Christmas mixing, so we do have to remain vigilant," Mr Gove said.

"We are confident that we will be able to get schools back in good order. Our plan and our timetable is there, and we are working with teachers to deliver it."

Mr Gove told BBC Breakfast the safe return to school would be built on an effective testing system, with teachers working "incredibly hard" to implement it.

Teachers' union the NASUWT said schools have not been given enough time to prepare for mass testing - and that further guidance and support were needed for those in the highest tier areas.

Dr Patrick Roach, the union's general secretary, told BBC News it was "vitally important" the government helps schools to arrange testing programmes "to ensure an effective mass testing system is possible".

Read the news here. : SLOT

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