Parents' fury as 'schools may close for ALL of January' after experts claim mutant Covid strain spreads faster in kids
PARENTS have slammed the suggestion schools could close for all of January – after experts claimed the mutant Covid strain spreads faster between kids.
Home Secretary Priti Patel hinted online learning could kick off the new year, with school gates remaining firmly closed until February.
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The date for children to return to classrooms has already been pushed back to January 11.
And the Home Secretary simply said today said pupils would "eventually" go back to school, after a Government source revealed some schools could stay shut until February.
She told Sky News: "We want to keep schools open, let me be clear about that, but we will take all the appropriate measures around protecting children, the health of children and also protecting teachers and the rest of the population as well around schools.
"Mass testing is up and running across the country as we know and we have been obviously speaking about mass testing in schools and that is something that is under discussion right now across Government for January and when the schools eventually go back."
Despairing parents told of their fears at the prospect of their kids being stuck at home for another month.
Many on Mumsnet said they were "dreading" home schooling, while some told how the first lockdown and school closures "nearly broke" them.
One fumed: "Blended/online learning does NOT work if you have multiple kids of different ages. It does not work if parents are working full time."
And another said: "The guilt I felt over having my child infront of a screen for 10 hours a day was just unendurable.
"I don't know what the solution is really. I would be amazed if we don't havesecond schools shutdown in January."
Covid chaos continues as:
- Boris Johnson sends in the Army to mass test 1,500 lorry drivers stranded in Kent.
- An ex-F1 driver and his daughter have been charged over 'Covid breaches'
- Millions were stranded or unable to travel after a string of countries banned flights to the UK over the new coronavirus strain
- More spots are at risk of being plunged into Tier 4 before Christmas
- Prince William and Kate Middleton have been defended after 'breaking rules'
Scientists from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group have said the new variant might spread quicker in children than the original.
They suggested this could be why the virus rate increased in some areas despite the second lockdown – as kids were still in school.
Teaching unions have called for online classes for the two weeks after Christmas to give staff the chance to get vaccinated.
But the Campaign for Real Education said any school closure is "catastrophic".
It comes after Boris Johnson said last night he can’t promise schools will reopen after Christmas.
Mass testing is set to be rolled out in schools in January, to try and keep a lid on Covid cases.
But Government sources told the Telegraph: "They are looking at staggering schools for longer, possibly for all of January.
"The focus mainly has been on secondary schools, but they are not there yet. The discussions are ongoing."
Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said yesterday more measures may be needed to get a grip on the virus.
Sir Patrick warned of the new mutant strain ripping across the nation: "I think it is likely that this will grow in numbers of the variant across the country, and I think its likely therefore that measures are going to need to be increased in some places, not reduced."
'KEEP KIDS IN EDUCATION'
Cases in London have doubled in the last week alone, it was confirmed yesterday.
The PM was unable to commit to all kids returning to school as planned in January.
Johnson would only say that he wanted to get schools back "if we possibly can".
He told the nation: "I think the most useful thing I can tell you at this stage is obviously if we possibly can get schools back in a staggered way at the beginning of January, the way that we have set out.
"But obviously, the commonsensical thing to do is follow the path of the epidemic as we showed last Saturday and keep things under constant review.
"It is very, very important to get kids and keep kids in education if we possibly can."
The PM appeared last night alongside Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, just days after his national address on Saturday.
News of the mutant strain – which Health Secretary Matt Hancock said was "out of control" – has spooked other nations, who have shut the borders with the UK and cancelled flights.
Hancock caused further dismay, after he suggested Tier 4 rules could stay in place for months – until the vaccination is rolled out to the most vulnerable people.
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