Petition Implement a two week school lockdown before 24 December to save Christmas
Schools should move to online learning from 9 December so that all students and school staff have a chance to isolate for two weeks and then can safely meet older relatives.
We need to be able to look forward to family celebrations at the end of a difficult year. There will be so many lonely grandparents if measures aren't taken to allow households to mix safely. There will be many very risky meetings which could lead to unnecessary pressure on the NHS.
Parliament debated this topic
This topic was debated on 7 December 2020
This response was given on 1 December 2020
As set out in the Government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan, schools should not close early or change their Christmas holidays. It remains a national priority to avoid further disruption to education.
It remains a national priority to keep schools open full time and avoid further disruption to education. As set out in the Government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan, nurseries, schools and colleges should not change their Christmas holidays or close early this term. Parents should continue to send their children to school during term time and students should continue to attend college right up until the end of term. A time-limited change to social restrictions over Christmas does not require any children to be taken out of school prematurely. The leaders and staff of education settings have been doing an extraordinary job to remain open, keep settings safe and provide education.
Returning to school full time has been vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing. Time out of school is detrimental for children’s cognitive and academic development, particularly for disadvantaged children. This impact can affect both current levels of education, children’s future ability to learn and preparation for those studying exams next summer.
School is the best place for children to learn, and it is important for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers, carers and teachers.
Schools have been open to all pupils since the start of the autumn term with figures showing, on average, 99% of schools are open each day.
The risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from coronavirus (COVID-19) is low and there are negative health impacts of being out of school. Senior clinicians, including the Chief Medical Officers of all four nations, still advise that school is the very best place for children to be, We have taken a national decision to prioritise education during the current period of national restrictions in order to avoid any further reduction in face to face education for children and young people. This is the chance for them to catch-up on lost education through full time attendance at school, and pupils and teachers will still have a break over the festive period.
We published ‘Guidance for full opening: schools’ (1) to support schools to welcome back all children full-time. Our guidance sets out measures which provide a framework for school leaders to put in place proportionate protective measures for children and staff, which also ensure that all pupils receive a high quality education that enables them to thrive and progress. This includes the public health advice schools must follow to minimise the risks of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission.
The measures set out in the department’s guidance to minimise the risk of transmission in schools has been endorsed by Public Health England. These include regular handwashing, promoting good respiratory hygiene, keeping groups separate and maintaining distance and minimising contact between individuals. Whilst pupils are in school they are in an inherently safer environment. Closing schools early would also cause additional disruption and inconvenience to many parents, including key workers such as NHS staff due to the additional child care arrangements required as a result of this action.
The festive period is an important time for many people of all faiths and none who come together over the holidays. For this reason, the government is changing some social contact restrictions for a short period of time. When following these new rules, we must each continue to take personal responsibility to limit the spread of the virus and protect our loved ones, particularly if they are vulnerable. For many, this will mean that it isn’t possible to celebrate Christmas in the normal way.
We will continue to keep the evidence, particularly on the transmission rate and wider risks on health, under review so that we can continue to support schools to remain open and provide the education that children deserve.
Department for Education