With cases of coronavirus rising across the country, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced a delay to a staggered return to school for millions of young people yesterday.

But what does it mean for Oxfordshire? 

Secondary schools

A staggered approach was due to see primary school pupils and Year 11 and 13 students returning in the first week of January, with others going back later in the month to allow headteachers to roll out mass testing of children and staff.

Now secondary schools are being told to 'prioritise remote education' to those in exam years for the first week of term instead.

  • From January 11, secondary schools will reopen for those in exam years (primarily Year 11 and Year 13), and provide remote education to all other pupils.
  • From January 18, all pupils should return to the classroom.
  • Children of key workers and vulnerable youngsters will still be able to attend lessons in primary and secondary schools from January 4. 

What about primary schools?

Primary schools in Oxfordshire have been advised by the government to reopen as normal next week.

Testing for primary staff is due to start in the second half of January, according to government advice.

Millions of primary school pupils in the worst hit areas of the country, however, will not return next week.

These include large parts of London, Essex, Kent, East Sussex, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

And testing? 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has told BBC Breakfast he isconfident schools will be ready to test pupils returning to the classrooms from January 11.

He said: “There’s absolutely no reason that schools won’t be ready.”

He said £78 million of additional funding, equipment such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and support from the military would help them get mass testing programmes set up.

Mr Williamson said: “We really want to hold their hands, support them, help them. We’re asking everyone right across the country to do pretty extraordinary things at the moment.”

What has the Prime Minister said? 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested these plans could change again depending on rates of infection.

At a press briefing yesterday, he said: “I want to stress that depending on the spread of the disease it may be necessary to take further action in their cases as well in the worst affected areas.”

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