Schools could be shut past February half-term as Boris Johnson refuses to guarantee return before SUMMER

Schools could be shut past February half-term as Boris Johnson refuses to guarantee return before SUMMER

BORIS Johnson last night refused to guarantee that all kids will be back in school before the summer holidays.

In a startling move, the PM only said he “hopes” schools will reopen in the spring once the Covid vaccination programme is well under way.

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He made the comments just hours after he closed all of England’s schools and colleges to most pupils and cancelled GCSE and A Level exams.

It came as:

  • England entered another lockdown today – with schools shut and people told to stay at home
  • Brits started panic buying yet again with shelves stripped bare
  • International travellers are set to be told to have a negative coronavirus test to get into the UK as Britain toughens up its borders
  • Experts said even this stricter lockdown might not be enough to curb the spread of the new strain
  • Hospitals continued to get busier as the NHS was just weeks from being overwhelmed
  • Gavin Williamson will give a statement to MPs in the Commons on schools and exams tomorrow – as Michael Gove said they would be cancelled

During a Downing Street press conference this evening, Mr Johnson said more than a million Brits – one in 50 of us – now has Covid.

It comes as a super-infectious mutant variation takes hold in every region of England.

Asked directly if he could promise parents their children will all be back in class by July, the PM dodged the question.

He told a No10 press conference: “On whether we can be absolutely sure schools can reopen – we think that with the vaccination programme we can do a huge amount to take the most vulnerable out of the path of this virus.

“That offers opportunities to do things differently.”

The PM said he is full of “optimism and fundamental hope” that he can start to lift the brutal lockdown by the spring.

Boris shut down schools nationally for at least seven weeks, while GCSE and A-Level exams have been binned.

And he has warned schools could stay closed longer.

He said keeping schools open is “imperative to any society” but sky-high infection rates meant he had to shut them.

Cabinet Minister Michael Gove admitted school closures will harm the lives of kids.

He said: “Of course, it was with the heaviest of hearts because education is such an important part of any young person's life and we want to keep schools open as much as possible.

"But the message from the chief medical officers yesterday was clear and therefore, with a heavy heart but with clear evidence, we had to act.”

Pupils who have had their GCSE and A Level exams cancelled this summer are expected to be given grades based on their teachers assessments.

Those taking B-Tech exams this month can still sit them, although ministers have said schools and colleges can cancel the exams if they have safety fears.

Education Secretary Gavin WIlliamson is facing growing calls to be sacked after the schools shambles.

Former Ofsted boss Sir Michael Wilshaw said headteachers had lost confidence in Mr Williamson.

He said the Education Secretary “has got a lot wrong up to now”.

Asked if he could quit, Sir Micahel said: “He gets other people to resign – permanent secretaries and the head of Ofqual.”

Mr Williamson’s reputation has been hammered after he was forced into a series of humiliating U-turns.

He failed to deliver on his promise to get all kids back to class before the last summer holidays, and was forced to tear up A Level and GCSE results because of a botched algorithm.

Meanwhile, the PM has also hinted that uni students who have been barred from returning to campus could be in line for refunds on their accommodation costs and tuition fees.

Tonight, it was also revealed that the BBC will lay on hours of educational programmes a day to help kids study at home.

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