Boris Johnson is ‘absolutely determined’ to keep UK schools open in the new year despite Covid-19 infections in the UK stuck at record-breaking highs.
Children are set to return to the classrooms following the Christmas break as the prime minister is not considering any restrictions on the education sector, according to reports.
January is an important time for students as they are due to take their mock exams, which help teachers decide on grades if GCSEa and A-levels get cancelled for a third year in a row.
A source close to education secretary Nadhim Zahawi, who is believed to be in daily talks about potential school closures with the PM, told the Sunday Times: ‘There is a shared commitment across government to make sure they stay open.’
The government is already making plans on tackling staff shortages in schools that have been caused by the surge of Omicron cases.
Earlier this week, Mr Zahawi called for any former teachers to come out of retirement and help out during the pandemic – but the move has been likened to a sticking plaster.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics shows 37 children under the age of 15, and another 41 teenagers aged between 15 and 19 have died from Covid-19 up to December 3.
More than 6,000 children have been hospitalised since the start of the pandemic, and around 77,000 are suffering from long-Covid symptoms, which is affecting their schooling.
But despite the uncertainty caused by the latest variant, even scientists have agreed school closures ‘should be off the table’.
Professor Devi Sridhar, chair of Global Public Health, told The Guardian that in previous lockdowns, when vaccinations were still not available, the best approach was to ‘minimise the risk’.
‘We now have safe vaccines that are effective at reducing the severe health outcomes of Covid-19, especially with boosters for over-18s,’ she said.