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Call For All Schools To Stay Shut Amid U-Turn ‘Chaos’: U.K

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Millions of children had to learn at home during the first lockdown when schools were closed. Photo Courtesy

The government has been accused of causing “chaos” after a last-minute decision to keep all London primary schools closed when term begins.

The U-turn comes as high coronavirus infection levels in the capital have put rising pressure on hospitals.

Ministers said closures were a “last resort” and education was a priority.

But Labour said the move had created “huge stress” for pupils, teachers and parents – while a union called for all schools to be shut nationwide.

The daily number of new Covid cases in the UK has topped 50,000 for the past four days, as the country struggles to control a new variant of the virus.

The president of the Royal College of Physicians, Prof Andrew Goddard, told the BBC the variant was spreading across the country and added: “All hospitals that haven’t had the big pressures that they’ve had in the South East, London and South Wales should expect that it’s going to come their way.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said in mid-December that all primary school pupils in England would return as normal in January, while the return of secondary schools and colleges would be staggered to give them time to set up mass testing programmes.

Millions of children had to learn at home during the first lockdown when schools were closed. Photo Courtesy

But on Wednesday, Mr Williamson delayed the start of term for all secondary schools, as well as some primary schools in Covid hotspots in south-east England, including parts of London.

Two days later, after pressure from local authorities, he expanded the primary school closures to the whole of London.

It means more than a million primary school pupils will now learn from home for at least the first two weeks of term.

Vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers will continue to attend school, the government said, adding that early years care, alternative provision and special schools will remain open.

Felicity Gitonga

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