Last reviewed 28 January 2021

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has given a statement to Parliament in which he suggested that the reopening of schools may be possible from Monday 8 March, with other economic and social restrictions being removed thereafter “as and when the data permits”.

“I know how parents and teachers need as much certainty as possible, including two weeks’ notice of the return of face-to-face teaching,” he said. “So I must inform the House that, for the reasons I have outlined, it will not be possible to re-open schools immediately after the February half term.”

The Prime Minister explained that, if the Government achieves its target of vaccinating everyone in the four most vulnerable groups with their first dose by 15 February then those groups will have developed immunity from the virus by about three weeks later, that is by 8 March.

As this means extending the period of remote learning beyond the middle of February, he confirmed that arrangements for providing free school meals for those eligible children not in school — including food parcels and the national voucher scheme — will be prolonged until they have returned to the classroom.

Mr Johnson also promised a further £300 million of new money to schools for tutoring and said that the Government will work in collaboration with the education sector to develop, as appropriate, specific initiatives for summer schools and a Covid Premium to support catch up.