UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that schools won’t shut down if a second coronavirus wave hits the country, it was reported on Tuesday.
On Monday, Johnson said that getting all children back to the classroom full-time in England next month was the “right thing for everybody”, the Metro newspaper reported.
His comments, on a visit to a school in east London, came after a teachers’ union said ministers should have a back up plan, such as a “week-on, week-off” rota system for students, in case of further lockdowns and surges in coronavirus cases.
The Prime Minister said he hoped schools would not be forced to close as a result of local action, adding it was the “last thing” that the government wanted to do.
“Clearly what we are doing – the way we are trying to manage the COVID-19 pandemic – is to have local measures in place and local test and trace to introduce restrictions where that’s necessary.
“As we have all said, the last thing we want to do is to close schools. We think that education is the priority for the country and that is simple social justice,” Johnson was quoted as saying by the Metro newspaper.
The government has confirmed that pubs and restaurants will close to allow schools to remain open in the event of a second wave.
It will be mandatory for all pupils in England to return to the classroom from September.
Guidance on reopening has been published for England.
There are separate plans for Wales, Northern Ireland and also Scotland, where schools are scheduled to return on Tuesday, the BBC reported.
Initially, schools were told to adopt a “bubble” approach, with children split into smaller, fixed groups that would go in on rotation.
But guidance now suggests all pupils should attend school full-time.