PM warns reopening schools faster could force Covid recovery ‘into reverse’


Boris Johnson has said it is “much better” to stick to the “prudent and cautious” approach to reopening schools so the plan to beat the pandemic is not “forced into reverse”.

The prime minister was challenged during today’s Downing Street briefing on his plans to wait to reopen schools until March 8 at the earliest. Pressure has been mounting after Scotland announced schools will start reopening on February 22.

Johnson said he shared the “urgency” of people who want to “go faster”, but he said March 8 was a “prudent date to set”.

“What we don’t want to do now we’re making progress with the vaccination roll out and we have a timetable for the way ahead, we don’t want to be forced into reverse.

“So, we think this is the prudent and cautious approach. It’s much better to stick to that.”

He added he was “very hopeful” of meeting the March 8 date, which has been set as it is three weeks after the vaccination of the first four priority groups is due to finish. Johnson said three weeks will allow the “vaccination immunity to be acquired”.

Government chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty also told the briefing that Covid infection rates were coming down but were still “incredibly high”, and said the closure of schools was still a “very important” part of the government’s efforts.

“If we were to start to take off again from the very high levels we are at the moment, the NHS would get back into trouble extraordinarily fast,” he warned.

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  1. S R Krhovjak

    I think inlight of the amount of time lost education should be put back a year to allow children from less priveledged households to recover. All this rubbish about laptops ect never materialused another phalisy. Today children are living in poverty due to lack of parental support. Yes we are in a pandemic but for millions we werent in this situatio n years ago . Get off ta backside ya paying fa a service that doesnt work millions wasted. Info supplied no action. So to the government I say step up pay the debts and alllow children to survive . My case has over £20.000 outstanding we have no heating no internet my children need clothes shoes a lifeline a right to life step up this pandemic is life or death maybe not physically but mentally. Shame on your ignorance.and this is a mother working throughout this pandemic neglecting her family to support and provide on the 15 hpurs without universal credit

  2. Reopen year group by year group after offering the vaccine to households with children in that year group.

    Else, at least allow families to elect to continue remote education until they have been offered the vaccine.

    Professor Chris Whitty said today that the decision of when to reopen schools was one for ‘ministers’. Isn’t it is also one for families? To weigh the risks, given all the information available and their understanding of their own particular circumstances, and make a considered decision as to when a return to the classroom is safe enough?

  3. Julie Lander

    This comment is so annoying schools are not such we have never been shut. Working in a school that is practically fully open really upsets me when people think you’ve got it easy . Mr Johnson needs to get his facts right this lockdown is a joke more people cars etc it’s not a lockdown so annoying.

  4. Schools and universities shouldn’t be quick to open as they we’re the ones to spread COVID at the highest rate, so lockdown should continue as long as it needs to to prevent a third lockdown and destroyed hopes