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Harlow primary schools to remain shut for most pupils

News / Wed 30th Dec 2020 at 05:30pm

HARLOW primary schools are to remain shut except for the children of key workers and vulnerable children announced the Education Secretary.

Most secondary pupils will also not return to classrooms until January 18 as the Government struggles to contain a coronavirus surge.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson delivered the grim news to the House of Commons as he admitted more time is needed to getting mass testing facilities in place for pupils and staff.

Students in years 11 and 13 facing exams will return on January 11, as had previously been planned for all pupils.

But the rest of the children will wait until January 18, to allow testing to be rolled out.

Meanwhile, primary schools in ‘high infection’ areas will be shut beyond January 4, although Mr Williamson stressed that will not apply to all of Tier 4. 

Full List below:

Barking and Dagenham
Barnet
Bexley
Brent
Bromley
Croydon
Ealing
Enfield
Hammersmith and Fulham
Havering
Hillingdon
Hounslow
Kensington and Chelsea
Merton
Newham
Richmond-Upon-Thames
Southwark
Sutton
Tower Hamlets
Waltham Forest
Wandsworth
Westminster
Brentwood
Epping Forest
Castle Point
Basildon
Rochford
Harlow
Chelmsford
Braintree
Maldon
Southend on Sea
Thurrock
Dartford
Gravesham
Sevenoaks
Medway
Ashford
Maidstone
Tonbridge and Malling
Tunbridge Wells
Swale
Hastings
Rother
Milton Keynes
Watford
Broxbourne
Hertsmere
Three Rivers

The Government’s original plan was for the majority of secondary school and college pupils to start the term online from January 4 before resuming face-to-face lessons from January 11.  

The Government’s initial plan was for exam year pupils to physically return to secondary schools and colleges from January 4 while the other students took part in online learning before then going back on January 11.  

Mr Williamson’s announcement comes after a number of senior scientists called for schools to remain completely shut in January, arguing that such drastic action is the only way to bring infection rates down. 

Professor Neil Ferguson, a member of the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said there had been a ‘balancing act’ since lockdown was initially eased between keeping control of the virus and maintaining ‘some semblance of normal society’.

But he said the planned reopening of schools from next week may have to be postponed.

He told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme yesterday: ‘Clearly nobody wants to keep schools shut. But if that’s the only alternative to having exponentially growing numbers of hospitalisations, that may be required at least for a period.

‘There are no easy solutions here. My real concern is that even if universities, schools, do have staggered returns or even stay closed, how easy it would be to maintain control of the virus is unclear now, given how much more transmissible this variant is.’

Earlier, Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) members Professor Andrew Hayward and Dr Mike Tildesley signalled the possibility of a ‘slight delay’ to having pupils back in the classroom. 

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