Will Schools Go Back On March 8?

What do we know about the reopening of schools in England ahead of UK Prime Minister's formal announcement today?
Will Schools Go Back On March 8?
By Carli Allan
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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce later today that all schools in England will reopen on March 8. According to reports in the media, Johnson will unveil a cautious plan to lift the Covid-19 lockdown in the country; this is reported to include a full return of all students on Monday, March 8.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Breakfast today (February 22) that from March 8, all schools will open with outdoor after-school sports and activities allowed. Also, two people will be allowed to meet for 'outdoor socialising', and from March 29 we may see a return to outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households, as well as organised adult and children's sport. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer said on Sunday that he backed all students returning on March 8. The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has called for the government to have a phased reopening of schools in England. A joint statement says:

"The science around the role that schools play in the overall rate of transmission is uncertain. Scientists have expressed different views on this point. What we do know is that the full reopening of schools will bring nearly 10 million pupils and staff into circulation in England – close to one fifth of the population. This is not a small easing of lockdown restrictions. It is a massive step."

The easing of lockdown measures is reported by the BBC to be based on four conditions:

  • The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with the virus or needing hospital treatment
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions
  • New variants of the virus do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions

Schools in Scotland start to return today (February 22), with the youngest primary students going back first the first to go back. In Wales, schools will return from March 15, and some schools in Northern Ireland will return on March 8.

Johnson is expected to host a Downing Street press conference at 7pm today (February 22). WhichSchoolAdvisor will continue to update this story.

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