Saturday, 26 Nov 2022

UK schools closed: Will schools open after Christmas?

First British Omicron victim was unvaccinated says step-son

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In March 2020, all schools closed during the nationwide lockdown, and GCSE and A-Level exams were cancelled in the early phases of the coronavirus pandemic. Parents across the nation were forced to get involved with ‘home learning’ as children were taught their lessons online, and it’s safe to say that was a tricky experience for most people. With the Omicron variant sweeping the nation, parents and children are concerned about school closures in the new year. Will schools open after Christmas? Here’s everything you need to know.

After months of home-learning and full-blown national lockdowns, in-person lessons were back up and running in September 2020.

Schools were closed again just a few months later, after the Christmas break encouraged more interaction and Covid cases rose, and that’s what Brits are concerned will happen this January.

Children have been getting used to going back to school since schools reopened in February 2021, but the Omicron variant is mystifying the fate of regular schooling for 2022.

Schools are starting to break up for the Christmas holidays for a couple of weeks of rest and fun, but there is uncertainty whether children will be going back to school in the new year after all.

Last year’s Christmas holidays caused a surge in cases, and although it’s early on in the holidays right now, the pattern seems to be the same this year.

There were more than 77,000 new cases announced in the UK on December 15.

This is a huge difference from the roughly 30,000 a day rolling seven-day average in September.

Will schools open again in January?

Some schools across the UK have been open about the possibility of switching to online learning in January.

In fact, a number of schools have already moved some lessons online as a result of rising Covid figures.

However, right now it is expected that all UK schools will offer in-person teaching in January after the Christmas break.

A Downing Street spokesperson said schools will only close if there is an “absolute public health emergency”.

They explained: “There are certainly no plans to put in any restriction on schooling.

“We’ve always sought to keep face-to-face schooling open and have only restricted it when there’s the direst public health emergency.

“There are certainly no plans to do that. We think we’ve got the right balance through Plan B and our big uptick in boosters.”

The Government has already made masks essential in public places under certain circumstances, so there is likely to be stricter rules for schools in the new year too.

Alex Burghart, the Education Minister, has said measures would be put in place in England to ensure “we have the best chance for the start of a normal school term”.

This includes things like testing on return to school, increased vaccination uptake, improved classroom ventilation and enhanced hygiene.

On the other hand, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has previously warned that learning could be moved online if the Omicron variant continues its surge.

He told LBC: “I’m just going to focus on everything else we need to be doing, especially the booster programme.

“I’d say this… if you are asking me for guarantees, I will just say – as the Health Secretary, of course, I’m not the Education Secretary – as the Health Secretary, that there are when it comes to our fight against this pandemic, there are no guarantees.

“But what we do know that works is, in this case, a booster shot of the vaccine.”

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