Will schools close again in January?

15 December 2021, 10:15

Here's what we know about school closures next year
Here's what we know about school closures next year. Picture: Getty Images/Alamy
Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi has refused to rule out school closures in the new year.

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With Covid cases on the rise, the Prime Minister has recently introduced stricter social distancing measures.

These include mandatory face masks, new isolation rules and Covid passes.

But worried parents have been wondering what this means for their children’s schools in 2022. Here’s everything you need to know…

Parents have been wondering whether schools will reopen in January
Parents have been wondering whether schools will reopen in January. Picture: Alamy

Will schools close again in January?

Downing Street has confirmed that the government has no plans to shut schools in January.

A government spokesperson said they will only close if there is an ‘absolute public health emergency’.

They said: "There are certainly no plans to put in any restriction on schooling.

"We've always sought to keep face-to-face schooling open and have only restricted it in when there's the direst public health emergency.

"There's certainly no plans to do that. We think we've got the right balance through Plan B and our big uptick in boosters."

Asked whether schools might shut early for Christmas, the PM’s spokesman added: "Certainly we do not think anyone should be closing schools early unless they have received advice from the local director of public health that it's necessary on public health grounds.

"We wouldn't want to see that happening routinely, just as a precaution, because as I've said, education is vital."

However, Health Secretary Sajid Javid previously said he couldn’t guarantee schools would stay open.

Mr Javid said while he doesn’t want children to go back to home learning, it could be a possibility if the Omicron variant continues to rapidly spread.

“I'm just going to focus on everything else we need to be doing, especially the booster programme,” he told Heart’s sister station LBC.

Sajid Javid has said he can't rule out schools closing
Sajid Javid has said he can't rule out schools closing. Picture: Alamy

“I'd say this... if you are asking me for guarantees, I will just say - as the Health Secretary, of course, I'm not the Education Secretary - as the Health Secretary, that there are, when it comes to our fight against this pandemic, there are no guarantees.

“But what we do know that works is, in this case, a booster shot of the vaccine.”

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi echoed this when he told the BBC: “We are absolutely working to make sure that all schools are open, that they're protected.

“I will do everything in my power. We are still learning about this variant. We know that a booster works.

“Get boosted, protect yourself, protect your community and let's get through this and transition this from pandemic to endemic.”