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Schools will re-open in two weeks’ time on March 8, the Prime Minister has announced today.
Boris Johnson outlined the ‘roadmap’ for the UK’s route out of lockdown in parliament this afternoon and highlighted his desire to lift restrictions on school next month.
Many children have had to navigate homeschooling for over two months in lockdown but there are remaining questions over testing, vaccines, and whether pupils will be required to catch up on what they have missed.
For parents like Charlotte McGregor, the news of schools reopening comes as welcome relief as she feels children will benefit from a routine and structure in their lives.
She said: "I’m delighted not only for parents but for children. I think children need to be back in school with the contact with their teachers, the face-to-dace contact, and the routine.
I think they’ve really missed just having a regular routine to follow. Homeschooling has been a real challenge when you’re trying to juggle work with giving them the attention that they need.
Luke Talmage, headteacher the Manor Court Community Primary School in Somerset welcomed the reopening date while worrying about students losing progress.
He said: "If you look at a child who is six years old in Year One, they’ve effectively in two lockdowns – the first lockdown started last March and also this one since January – they’ve lost six months of their education."
Luke also said his teachers will encounter a huge breadth of ability between children who've coped well under lockdown and those whose learning has stagnated or even gone into reverse.
Rupert Maule, headteacher at Bridge Learning Campus, welcomed the return of pupils to his school but is also concerned about the logistics regarding testing.
He said: "We’ve certainly missed having the students in school. It feels a very empty place without them but also a little bit of trepidation.
"If there is an expectation around routine or regular testing for all pupils when they’re returning then that will really be a significant drain on school resources and would be a real challenge."
The Prime Minister said the return of students will be supported by twice weekly testing of secondary school and college pupils.
He said: "All the evidence shows that classrooms are the best places for our young people to be and that's why I've always said that schools would be the last to close and the first to reopen.
I can tell the House that two weeks from today, pupils and students in all schools and further education settings can safely return to face-to-face teaching, supported by twice weekly testing of secondary school and college pupils.
"Families and childcare bubbles will also be encouraged to get tested regularly. Breakfast and after-school clubs can also reopen and other children's activities including sport can restart where necessary to help parents to work."