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Norfolk schools 'may not reopen until after Easter holidays'

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Parents are facing the prospect of many more months of home schooling - with the Government expected to rule out a return to the classroom in February.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is believed to be preparing to make the announcement within days. He is not expected to put a precise date on schools reopening, but education leaders expect it will not be until April or May.

A report in The Sunday Times quotes a Government source as saying: "We are in this for the long haul. We are going to start giving parents more information so they can start managing their expectations.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA (43854876)
Education secretary Gavin Williamson. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA (43854876)

"Although we have not arrived at an exact date when we think schools will go back, it will not be after half term."

The news will come as a blow for parents attempting to juggle the demands of home schooling with work.

Suffolk MP and Health Minister Matt Hancock has also said this weekend that an easing of lockdown restrictions is a long, long way off.

A survey this weekend revealed many working parents are reporting increased levels of stress and have concerns about their children's mental well-being.

The Times report says that when schools do eventually reopen, it is likely to be on a staggered basis. Those in specific year groups, such as those studying for GCSEs and A-levels may return first. A rota system may also be introduced,with pupils taught every other week from home.

Steve Chalke, founder of the Oasis Academy Trust, said: "I do not believe it will be safe for schools to reopen fully after half term. There may be a possibility after Easter."

The news comes as it was revealed Coronavirus vaccines may not fully prevent people from passing the virus on to others and people who have had the jab should still continue to abide by lockdown restrictions.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, said that if those who have been vaccinated begin easing off because they are protected, they are potentially putting at risk those further down the priority list who still need inoculation.

His warning came as the latest Government figures showed the number receiving the first dose of the vaccine across the UK has passed 5.8 million, with a record 478,248 getting the jab in a single day.

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