UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that schools in England will not reopen after the half-term break next month, but there is hope that they can resume from early March.
While addressing lawmakers in the House of Commons (lower house of Parliament) on Wednesday, he acknowledged parents’ frustration with school closure and hopes to begin reopening England’s schools from March 8, reports Xinhua news agency.
A firm decision would be taken in the week of February 22, after the spring half-term, which is the date the government had originally hoped schools would reopen, he added.
The March 8 date was based on the thinking that if the National Health Service (NHS) is successful in vaccinating the four most vulnerable groups by mid-February, he noted, adding that there was no enough data yet to decide when to end the current lockdown.
His government hopes other lockdown restrictions could begin to be gradually eased at some point after schools reopen, but pupils returning to class would be the “first sign of normality”, the Prime Minister added.
Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, called on the Johnson-led government to “use the window” of the February half-term to vaccinate all teachers and support staff.
Johnson said teachers in the top nine priority groups would be vaccinated as a “matter of priority”.
More than 6.8 million people in Britain have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, the latest official figures showed.
The UK is on track to deliver a first dose to 15 million of the most vulnerable by mid-February and to offer all adults their first dose by autumn, according to vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi.
England is currently under the third national lockdown since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country.
Similar restriction measures are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
As of Thursday morning, the country’s coronavirus caseload and death toll stood at 3,725,637 and 102,085, respectively.