Speaking in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson has announced that schools will remain closed after February half-term.
However he went on to tell MPs that he hoped it would be safe to begin reopening them on Monday, March 8.
The Prime Minister explained it would not be possible to reopen schools ‘immediately after the February half term’.
He said: “The first sign of normality beginning to return should be pupils going back to their classrooms. I know how parents and teachers need as much certainty as possible including two weeks’ notice of the return of face-to-face teaching.
“So I must inform the House that for the reasons I have outlined it will not be possible to reopen schools immediately after the February half-term. But I know how frustrating that will be for pupils and teachers who want nothing more than to get back to the classroom.
“And for parents and for carers who spent so many months juggling their day jobs, not only with home schooling but meeting the myriad other demands of their children from breakfast until bedtime.’
The Prime Minister said that so far, efforts ‘do appear to have reduced the R rate’, but this could be because we do not yet have enough data to know exactly how soon it will be safe to come out of lockdown.
He continued: “What we do know is that we remain in a perilous situation with more than 37,000 patients now in hospital with Covid, almost double the peak of the first wave, but the overall picture should be clearer by mid-February. By then we will know much more about the effect of vaccines in preventing hospitalisations and deaths.’
“So I can tell the House that when Parliament returns from recess in the week commencing 22nd February subject to the full agreement of the House, we intend to set out the results of that review and publish our plan for taking the country out of lockdown.
“That plan will of course depend on the continued success of our vaccination programme, the capacity of the NHS and on deaths falling at the pace we would expect as more people are inoculated.”