All primary and secondary schools across England closed when the country moved into a third national lockdown in January.
Only vulnerable children and children of key workers are currently allowed to attend schools for face-to-face learning, with teachers providing remote learning for all other pupils.
i’s education newsletter: news and analysis as schools try to return to normal
While nurseries and existing childcare bubbles were allowed to stay in place, all schools are set to remain closed until mid-February at least, with the Prime Minister hinting that these measures could be extended further.
Here’s the latest on we know about schools reopening:
When did schools close?
Schools in England were ordered to close following the lockdown announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the evening of Monday 4 January.
Even though some pupils returned to school after the Christmas holidays that same morning, all schools in England were forced to close again from Tuesday 5 January onwards for most students.
During his televised speech, Mr Johnson said: “Because we now have to do everything we possibly can to stop the spread of the disease, primary schools, secondary schools and colleges across England must move to remote provision from tomorrow, except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.
“Everyone will still be able to access early years settings such as nurseries.”
He added: “We will provide extra support to ensure pupils entitled to free school meals will continue to receive them while schools are closed and we will distribute more devices to support remote education.”
Different rules apply to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
When will schools open?
We don’t know for sure yet, but the Government and scientists have frequently re-iterated that they are hoping to ease the nationwide lockdown restrictions in the spring.
Since lockdown began, primary and secondary schools have been expected to provide remote learning until at least the February half term.
On Wednesday 27 January, the Prime Minister announced schools will remain closed until at least Monday 8 March.
He added that that the “economic and social restrictions” involved under the lockdown measures could only be eased “then or thereafter”.
This timetable is based on progress in vaccinating the most vulnerable groups in society by mid-February and then giving the jab time to take effect.
Mr Johnson told MPs: “The first sign of normality beginning to return should be pupils going back to their classrooms.”
But he said the caution was necessary as the UK remains in a “perilous situation, with more than 37,000 patients now in hospital with Covid – almost double the peak of the first wave”.
On Sunday 24 January, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock had gone as far as to say schools re-opening before the Easter holidays is a “hope” but not “an expectation”.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “Throughout this crisis we have looked at the data, we’ve made sure that we’ve taken action as early as we can but rapidly if we need to. And of course I hope that schools go back after Easter, of course I do.
“The vaccination programme is going fast, but we’ve got to make sure that we get the cases down and we’ve got to protect the country from new variants coming in from abroad.”
— to inews.co.uk