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London primary schools to remain closed as Covid cases soar in the capital
Ministers are resisting calls to keep all schools closed and switch to online learning next week after five days of more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases reported across the UK.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson said on Friday that all London primary schools would remain shut to most pupils on Monday due to rising infection rates but the government has opposed demands by unions to close all schools for the next two weeks.
Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman told the Sunday Telegraph that ministers could not furlough young peoples learning until the vaccination programme begins to take an effect.
It came as Englands deputy chief medical officer defended the policy to delay giving second doses of coronavirus vaccines in order to give more first jabs to vulnerable people.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said data from vaccine trials showed patients got almost complete protection from their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and could wait longer for their second dose.
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Pretty clear tougher restrictions are needed, SAGE adviser says
SAGE adviser Sir Mark Walport has warned that even tougher restrictions may be needed to control the spread of coronavirus this winter.
Speaking on the BBCs Andrew Marr Show, Sir Mark said the focus in the UK should be about breaking essentially every possible route of transmission we possibly can.
Our reporter, Chantal Da Silva, has more details on this story below:
The UK is going to need to do more to address a surge in Covid cases, Sir Mark Walport has said
Conrad Duncan3 January 2021 10:01
Ministers resist calls to keep all schools closed to stop Covid spread
Ministers are resisting calls to keep all schools closed next week as pressure grows over a move to online learning due to fears about the spread of the new variant of coronavirus.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed on Friday that all London primary schools would remain shut to most pupils on Monday but unions have called for all schools to close for the next two weeks.
The Department for Education said remote learning was a last resort and classrooms should reopen wherever possible with safety measures in place.
As we’ve said, we will move to remote education as a last resort, with involvement of public health officials, in areas where infection and pressures on the NHS are highest, a government spokesperson said.
Our political correspondent, Ashley Cowburn, has more details on the situation last night below:
Unions call for immediate switch to remote learning amid concerns over staff safety
Conrad Duncan3 January 2021 09:54
Hello and welcome to The Independents live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic today.
Conrad Duncan3 January 2021 09:43