There is no certainty that schools will be able to reopen to all pupils after the half term break, Boris Johnson has warned.
Whether schools can have all pupils back in February depends on a number of factors, and it's far too early to predict any kind of relaxation of the current rules, the prime minister told senior MPs yesterday.
Mr Johnson was asked: "Will schools reopen again after the half-term?" He replied saying the priority was to "get schools open as soon as possible" and then listed a series of factors that could get in the way.
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"The priority is obviously to get schools open as soon as possible," the prime minister told the Commons liaison committee. "Whether we can do that—or begin to do that—after the half-term break in the middle of February depends on a number of things.
"It depends on the success of the vaccination programme; it depends on us not finding that, for instance, the South African or Brazilian variants are vaccine-resistant; it depends on us not finding out something else about the disease that makes us recalculate.
"That has to go well, and then the crucial thing is that the overall lockdown measures have to continue to work."
He added that there is no evidence the new variants were vaccine resistant..
"What we are seeing today, as I speak to you, are some early signs of progress in restraining the growth of the virus, and some signs perhaps of flattening, of levelling off, in some parts," he said.
"But it is far, far too early for us to say that that means that we can go into any kind of relaxation in the middle of February. We have to work very, very hard to achieve that.
"In the meantime, the tragedy for so many kids is that they will not get the education that they need. That is why we fought desperately to keep schools open for as long as we possibly could."