Schools could stay shut until February half term as experts warn Tier 4 lockdown unlikely to slow Covid mutant strain

SCHOOLS may be closed until mid-February, Sage advisers have warned.

The group warned classrooms may need to be closed until the February half-term as current measures could prove "insufficient" in curbing the virus.

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Senior Ministers admitted schools could stay shut after No 10 reviews measures on January 18, reports The Telegraph.

A source told the paper: “The closure of schools until mid-February is an entirely possible scenario.

"We don’t have the data for Christmas yet but we will by January 18 and it’s difficult to see that being an improvement.”

Another senior source added: “We have been careful not to say they will definitely reopen on January 18 because we don’t know that.”

Minutes from a Sage meeting that took place before Christmas revealed officials were skeptical a November-style lockdown could help prevent the spread of the super-infectious new strain of coronavirus.

The news comes afterEducation Secretary Gavin Williamson was critcised for the "confusing" guidance on schools – which saw one reopen and one shut on the same street.

One frustrated mum said it was "utterly ridiculous" for her kids to go back to class just half a mile away from an area considered too unsafe for another school to open.

Robert Halfon, chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee expressed concern over the "patchwork" closures.

He said: "I am worried two weeks will become four weeks and then six weeks."

It is thought 15 per cent of the total primaries across the country will stay shut, as Education Secretary Gavin Williams refused to apologise for the chaos.

Teachers have also been left feeling anxious about returning to school, with one, Lauren, telling LBC she had lost hair and sleep at the prospect of going back to the classroom.

She said: "I did not sign up to risk my life".

n nearly 50 Tier 4 areas where infection rates are highest, ALL schools will have to stay closed, including primaries.

That includes most of London, Essex, Kent, and a handful of areas in Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and East Sussex – but key workers and vulnerable pupils can still attend.

These will stay closed until at least January 18 – but the situation will be reviewed every two weeks.

Secondary schools in the hotspot areas will stay closed for at least two weeks until January 18 – along with schools in the rest of the country.

The data will be reviewed before then and a decision made whether to get schools back.

But students set to sit GCSEs and A-levels will return on January 11 as planned – and any January exams will go ahead.

Early years like nurseries will remain open nationally, as will alternative provision and special schools.

Students going back to university should stay home if they can – and only those who need to attend for practical learning to go back.

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