The prime minister has said “it will not be possible” to reopen schools in England after the half-term break next month and that the earliest schools could reopen and “depends on lots of things going right”.
Boris Johnson said a final decision would depend on meeting vaccination targets and schools would get two weeks’ notice.
He told a news conference: “The date of 8 March is the earliest that we think it is sensible to set for schools to go back and obviously we hope that all schools will go back.”
“I’m hopeful, but that’s the earliest that we can do it and it depends on lots of things going right, and… it also depends on us all now continuing to work together to drive down the incidence of the disease through the basic methods we’ve used throughout this pandemic,” he added.
Prime minister Johnson said he understood frustration among pupils and teachers “and for parents and for carers who spent so many months juggling their day jobs, not only with home schooling but meeting the myriad other demands of their children from breakfast until bedtime”.
The government planned to review lockdown measures – including school closures – in February, which parents and teachers hoped that pupils could return to classes after half term.
The prime minister acknowledged the impact of continued school closures and said the pledged he would “work with parents, teachers and schools to develop a long-term plan to make sure that pupils have the chance to make up their learning” before 2024.
He said £300m “of new money to schools” would fund a catch-up programme over the coming year, with financial incentives.