Thousands of Brent primary pupils to see delayed return to school due to Covid variant
- Credit: PA
Thousands of primary school pupils in Brent will not return to school next week as the new Covid-19 variant spreads across the country.
Brent is among 22 boroughs in London where the rules are being enforced. Neighbouring Camden and Harrow are not on the list.
The government's Education Secretary Gavin Williamson MP told MPs in the Commons on Wednesday (December 30) that primary schools in a "small number of areas" in England where Covid-19 infection rates are among the highest will not reopen for face-to-face teaching to all pupils as planned next week.
Only children of critical workers and those defined as vulnerable are allowed to attend school, meaning many children will remain at home.
From Monday (January 4), Brent schools will deliver remote teaching.
The government decision will be reviewed on January 18.
The expected staggered reopening of secondary schools in the borough and beyond will also be delayed, as he said an "immediate adjustment" had to be made to plans for the new year return.
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Mr Williamson said students in exam years will return to secondary schools a week later than planned, from January 11, while other secondary and college students will go back full-time on January 18.
He added: "We must always act swiftly when circumstances change. The evidence about the new Covid variant and rising infection rates have required some immediate adjustment to our plans for the new term.
"The latest study we have from Public Health England is that Covid infections among children are triggered by changes in the community rate.
"The study also says that the wider impact of school closures on children's development would be significant.
"I'm quite clear that we must continue to do all we can to keep children in school."
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was "urgently seeking clarification as to why schools in some London boroughs have been chosen to stay open" while others "just down the road won't".
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), described the announcement as "another last-minute mess which could so easily have been avoided" had the Government listened to school leaders before the Christmas break.
"If we'd had the freedom to take action before the holidays, we might have been in a position to have more schools open for more pupils. School leaders will be baffled, frustrated and justifiably angry tonight," he added.