Schools will reopen to more pupils from 1 June, the prime minister has confirmed.
Speaking at today's daily Downing Street briefing, Boris Johnson said the government's five key tests set out in its lockdown exit plan have been met.
This means that primary schools will be encouraged to open to more year groups from Monday.
Coronavirus: Track and trace needed for school openings
Mr Johnson said: "We will now reopen schools to more children. Closing schools has deprived children of their education, and as so often it is the most disadvantaged pupils who risk being hardest hit.
"On Monday, we will start to put this right in a safe way by reopening nurseries and other early years settings and Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in primary schools.
"A fortnight later, on 15 June, secondary schools will begin to provide some face-to-face contact time for Years 10 and 12."
The news comes on the same day that leading scientists warned that it is not safe for schools to open on 1 June.
A report by the "Independent Sage" committee, chaired by former chief scientific adviser Sir David King, warned that the government's own modelling of school openings shows the R value rising above 1.
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said: “Government should be bound to protect all of us during this frightening and difficult time.
"Yet the announcement today about England pressing ahead with wider school opening flies in the face of this duty.
"We are not saying 'only go back when it is 100 per cent safe'. Nothing ever is. But we are saying: meet your own tests, produce sound scientific evidence and return when the time is right to ensure the virus can be contained as much as possible."
Geoff Barton, Association of School and College Leaders general secretary, said: “The argument about whether this is the right thing to do will doubtlessly continue to rage, particularly given the fact that the test-and-trace system, vital to containing further outbreaks of the virus, has only just launched today.
“What is important now is that we all get behind our schools and support them in this very challenging situation…
“There are significant logistical issues involved, including constraints on the physical space in schools, and the availability of staff, given that some will be self-isolating or in vulnerable categories.
“There is also likely to be a great deal of variability in how many parents send their children into schools. Added to this is the fact that local authorities are taking different approaches.
“All of this means the picture from Monday will vary widely between schools and areas according to local circumstances. We urge everybody to understand this is an extraordinary situation and to respect the decisions that are made by schools.
“It is also vital that schools receive prompt, clear and definitive public health advice as necessary in the event that infection rates increase in their area, or there are outbreaks of the virus in their school. They will need direction on precisely what to do in these circumstances.”