Head teachers, teachers, and staff of schools, nurseries and colleges have been doing an extraordinary job to remain open, keep schools safe, and provide education for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. On 7 January, the Department published further guidance which sets out what schools will need to do during this new period of national lockdown. The guidance is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/950510/School_national_restrictions_guidance.pdf.
Face-to-face education is best for children’s mental health and for their educational achievement. The Department has resisted restrictions on attendance at schools since the first lockdown but, in the face of the rapidly rising numbers of COVID-19 cases across the country and intense pressure on the NHS, we need to reduce all our social contacts wherever possible. Limiting attendance during the national lockdown will support the reduction of the overall number of social contacts in our communities.
During the period of national lockdown, schools, colleges and wraparound childcare and other out-of-school activities for children should allow only vulnerable children and young people and the children of critical workers to attend. All other pupils and students should not attend and should learn remotely.
The Department will continue to review the restrictions on schools and will ensure that children and young people return to face-to-face education as soon as possible.