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Schools in Tier Four areas are to remain closed for an extra fortnight after growing pressure to keep students out the classroom – but nurseries will remain open.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is to set out Downing Street’s new strategy at a briefing at around 4pm this afternoon having hammered out the final details today.
Teaching unions have been calling for a delay so mass coronavirus testing of students can be set up before in-person learning resumes.
The Government had originally proposed a staggered return for secondary school pupils in the first two weeks of the new Year.
Exam-year pupils and vulnerable children would return first, with primary schools opening as usual.
But the plans have changed and the Department of Education has now proposed a longer delay in a bid to set up mass testing.
Let us know what you think about the government's stance on schools in the coronavirus crisis in the comment section below.
Exam-year pupils in non-Tier Four areas will now not be back in the classroom until January 11, with other year groups back on January 18.
And all schools in the worst hit Tier Four areas have now been told to remain closed for an extra two weeks.
But parents of younger children will be relieved to hear that nurseries are set to remain open, No.10 confirmed ahead of this afternoon's press conference.
Boris Johnson is set to address the nation in a live press conference from Downing Street at 5pm on the latest developments.
Speaking earlier today on Radio 4, Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted that the new variant of the disease had made planning for schools more difficult.
He said: "Clearly we would want to protect education as much as possible, that has been part of our strategy, and throughout autumn I've been really pleased we've managed to protect education all the way through.
"But the new variant does make that much easier for this disease to transmit, so we are going to protect education as much as we can, and the education secretary is going to set out his proposals."
It comes after Mr Williamson attempted to take Greenwich Council, in London, to court earlier this month for asking schools to close a few days early before Christmas.
It comes in a day full of Coronavirus news, with the Oxford vaccine being given vital sign off by the medicines watchdog in a major breakthrough for Brits.
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