Primary school pupils in Southport and across Sefton WILL still return on Monday (4 January), although most secondary school pupils will not return to class for another two weeks (Monday 18 January).

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson today revealed the news as the UK battles a recent Covid-19 surge including a more contagious new variant. 

Earlier today, Health & Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock moved Sefton up from Tier 2 to more restrictive Tier 3 ‘Very High’ measures, while Lancashire (including West Lancashire and South Ribble) was moved up into Tier 4 ‘Stay At Home’ measures. 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson delivered the news to the House of Commons this afternoon as he admitted more time is needed to get mass testing facilities in place in schools.

High school students in years 11 and 13 facing exams will return on Monday 11 January, as had previously been planned for all pupils.

But the rest of the children will wait until 18 January, to allow testing to be put in place.

Meanwhile, primary schools in ‘high infection’ areas will be shut beyond January 4, although Mr Williamson stressed that will not apply to all of Tier 4. 

The Government’s original plan was for the majority of secondary school and college pupils to start the term online from January 4 before resuming face-to-face lessons from January 11. 

The one week delay was planned to give schools some time to put in place a mass coronavirus testing programme.  

The Government’s initial plan was for exam year pupils to physically return to secondary schools and colleges from January 4 while the other students took part in online learning before then going back on January 11.  

Mr Williamson’s announcement comes after a number of senior scientists called for schools to remain completely shut in January, arguing that such drastic action is the only way to bring infection rates down. 

Professor Neil Ferguson, a member of the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said there had been a ‘balancing act’ since lockdown was initially eased between keeping control of the virus and maintaining ‘some semblance of normal society’.

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