Boris Johnson has said parents should send children back to primary school tomorrow “in areas where schools are open”. The pressure is mounting on the Government to keep all school children in England learning from home when the new term starts next week amid fears over the spread of the new strain of COVID-19. But the Prime Minister said, “there is no doubt in my mind that schools are safe”.
Speaking on the BBC Andrew Marr show, Mr Johnson said: “Yes, absolutely they should in areas where schools are open.
“What we are doing, clearly, is grappling with a new variant of coronavirus which is surging particularly in London and the South East.
“And that is why we have had to take exceptional measures.”
He said: “We’re going to work with local authorities, work with schools and those responsible up and down the country.
“Our advice remains the same, which is that for public health reasons we think in the large majority of the country, large parts of the country, it is sensible to continue to keep schools open, primary schools, as you know secondary schools coming back a bit later.
“And the second thing is that we are going to be ramping up testing across the whole of the system and I don’t think people have focused enough on this, if I may just for a second.
“One of the things we didn’t have when we went into the first lockdown, where we sadly did have to close schools, was we didn’t have this huge number of lateral flow tests.
“We now have hundreds of millions of lateral flow tests which I believe and hope can be used, deployed, particularly in secondary schools to assist the return of schools.”
“And that, I think, is something that should keep people going in what I predicted, back on your show in in October, will be a very bumpy period right now.
“It is bumpy and it’s going to be bumpy.”
Gavin Williamson confirmed on Friday that all London primary schools will remain shut to most pupils next week – rather than just those in certain boroughs as set out earlier in the week – but teaching unions say all schools should close for the next two weeks.
On Saturday evening, the Department for Education said remote learning was “a last resort” and classrooms should reopen “wherever possible” with appropriate safety measures to help mitigate the risk of transmission.