Portsmouth parents react as secondary school children see start of term pushed back by government

PRIMARY school pupils will return to classes next week but secondary students must wait until Covid-19 testing facilities are in place, it has been announced.

Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 6:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 6:12 pm

All pupils in exam years will return to secondary schools in England from January 11 while the rest of secondary and college students will go back full-time on January 18, said education secretary Gavin Williamson on Wednesday.

Primary schools in a ‘small number of areas’ where Covid-19 infection rates are the highest will not reopen for face-to-face teaching to all pupils as planned next week, he added.

Primary schools in Portsmouth and the surrounding area will not be affected by this, meaning they will return next week.

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Education secretary Gavin Williamson gives his statement to the House of Commons. Picture: PRU/AFP via Getty Images

No advice has been issued about nurseries, though national reports indicate they will remain open as normal.

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From January 4, secondary schools and colleges will prepare to test as many staff and students as possible, and will only be open to vulnerable children or the children of key workers – but lessons will continue remotely.

Mr Williamson said: ‘Throughout the first week of term, exam year groups will continue to have lessons remotely in line with what they would receive in class.

‘The overwhelming majority of primary schools will open as planned on Monday. The areas will also be reviewed regularly so that schools can reopen at the very earliest moment.’

Parents have reacted to the announcement on social media, with many saying restrictions should go further.

Commenting on The News' Facebook page, Liz Hodgson said: ‘I think it should be an option that if you can keep your kids at home, you should.

‘Mine are in Years 10, 7, 5 and 3 and if I was guaranteed no fine for keeping them off I would.

‘I’m furloughed anyway so would feel much better having them home with me.’

Emma Macaskill added: ‘Madness opening on Monday – the NHS hasn’t seen the peak from Christmas Day mixing yet.

‘Kids will survive learning from home until February.’

The University of Portsmouth, along with all universities, has been advised to reduce the number of students who return to campus at the start of January, instead phasing students back into the city.

Concerns have also been raised about the safety of the teachers themselves, with a petition for teachers, school and childcare staff to be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccinations reaching more than 135,000 signatures.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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