Academic Year: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 7th December 2020.

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Photo of Lord Porter of Spalding Lord Porter of Spalding Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Berridge on 26 October (HL9059), what plans they have to close schools and move to online learning before the Christmas holidays to enable (1) children to be isolated in their family groups, and (2) extended family gatherings in a COVID-19 secure manner.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

It continues to be the Department’s aim that all pupils, in all year groups, remain in school full time. Returning to school full time has been vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing. Time out of school is detrimental for children’s cognitive and academic development, particularly for disadvantaged children. This impact can affect both current levels of learning and children’s future ability to learn.

As set out in the Government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan, nurseries, schools and colleges should not change their Christmas holidays or close early this term. Parents should continue to send their children to school during term time. A time limited change to social restrictions over Christmas does not require any children to be taken out of school prematurely. The leaders and staff of schools have been doing an extraordinary job to remain open, keep settings safe and provide education.

Schools have implemented a range of protective measures to minimise risk of transmission. The risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 is low and there are negative health impacts of being out of school. Senior clinicians, including the Chief Medical Officers of all 4 nations, still advise that school is the very best place for children to be, and so they should continue to go to school.

Closing schools early would also cause additional disruption and inconvenience to many parents, including key workers such as NHS staff, due to the additional child care arrangements required as a result of this action.

If parents have concerns about their child attending school because they consider they or members of their household may have particular risk factors, they should discuss these with their school.

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