Dozens of schools already SHUT for Christmas over Covid amid fears closures will last into January

DOZENS of schools have already SHUT for Christmas over Covid cases, with experts fearing that closures could last into January.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), has said schools across the country are seeing "very severe low attendance" as the Omicron variant spreads.


It comes as Downing Street last night insisted that keeping schools open was a "national priority" and they should be the last to shut.

But as cases soar across the country several schools have had no option but to close their doors.

Mr Barton told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme: "Listening to the speculation and the news, and certainly the emails I've been getting from members, you are getting some pockets of very severe low attendance, partly young people, partly staff.

"One (school) has emailed me this morning saying 25% of staff have been off for three weeks, you can imagine if you can't then get supply teachers that becomes very difficult to maintain the quality of education.

He added: “These decisions are not being made by a headteacher.

“It’s not someone saying ‘we're going to close the school because christmas can come early’ – This was public health advice.

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“There is a national narrative, quite rightly, that we should be keeping children in school but in some areas public health are saying ‘we are recommending that young people should move to remote learning’ so we are seeing a pretty mixed picture there.”

The PM yesterday braced Brits for a "tidal wave" of Omicron as he put rockets under the booster programme.

Asked on LBC this morning if he could rule out schools shutting, Mr Javid said: "Well, I don't want to see that or any of these kinds of measures. I'm just going to focus on everything else we need to be doing, especially the booster programme."

He added: "I'd say this… if you are asking me for guarantees, I will just say – as the Health Secretary, of course, I'm not the Education Secretary – as the Health Secretary, that there are, when it comes to our fight against this pandemic, there are no guarantees.

"But what we do know that works is, in this case, a booster shot of the vaccine."

Shutting schools would leave millions of parents despairing and forced to arrange expensive childcare again.

Teacher unions are calling for more restrictions – including staggering the return of pupils after Christmas.

The news will likely cause alarm for parents after last year's back-to-school debacle, where schools were shut just one day after reopening following the Christmas break.

The Sun understands the Department for Education is drawing up plans to bring "trigger-happy" local health bosses and teachers into line with central Government advice.

Government sources described frustration at playing "whack-a-mole" every time tough restrictions straying beyond government guidance are imposed on kids.

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