Millions of English children and teenagers headed back to school on Monday for the first time in two months, having endured their second extended stretch of home learning because of a strict national lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The reopening of English schools to all pupils is the first step in a four-stage government plan to ease the lockdown while trying to prevent a new surge in infections after a devastating winter wave that severely strained hospitals.
Since the start of the pandemic, Britain has recorded 124,500 deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test, the fifth highest official death toll in the world and the worst in Europe.
For adults in England, the lockdown remains in force, with social contact severely restricted, people under orders to stay at home except for essential reasons, most shops closed, and cafes and restaurants able to offer only takeaway or delivery.
“Getting all schools back has been our priority and the first step of our roadmap back to normality,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter.