COVID: "We need the children back", says Newcastle Headteacher

  • Video report by ITV News Tyne Tees Correspondent Tom Barton

As uncertainty continues over when schools will reopen to all pupils, one Newcastle headteacher has said it is important the children return.

It is feared that children in the most deprived areas of the region are falling behind because they do not have access to the technology they need and the longer they're away from the classroom the greater the divide will become.

The question of how long home learning would continue for most children was raised in parliament.

It had been hoped that the majority of pupils could return after February half-term, but over the last few days ministers have refused to guarantee it would happen even before Easter.

Labour tabled an urgent question in the House of Commons on January 26 to ask for a plan.

The Schools Minister responded by saying that decisions will be taken according to advice and evidence around the wider picture, but schools would be at the front of the queue.

The government has said it wants to give schools and parents two weeks notice when they are ready to push ahead with full reopening

The Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb, said that the government will "be making announcements in the next few days". However, he gave no indication on whether that meant setting out dates or details of a phased approach to getting more pupils back in the classroom.

One approach that has been suggested by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer is reopening schools on a regional basis, depending on infection rates.