Schools in England reopen on Monday

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Children return to school in England on Monday for the first time since January, as the government begins to ease tough restrictions thanks to a mass vaccination drive against the coronavirus.

Throughout the latest lockdown since the start of the new year, schools have remained open to children of key workers and the most vulnerable.

But all other children have been at home, causing a headache for working parents, and fears about the effect on their learning.

Pupils aged five to 11 go back to the classroom Monday, with a staggered return over the coming week for secondary school students aged 11 to 18.

Schoolchildren returned to class after the Christmas break but were sent home again after just one day, to contain a more transmissible virus strain.

Secondary school pupils are being asked to take three voluntary Covid-19 tests on site and one at home over the first fortnight. They will then be sent home-testing kits to do twice-weekly.

The Department for Education (DfE) is also advising secondary school students to wear face coverings wherever social distancing cannot be maintained, including in the classroom.

But primary schoolchildren are not being asked to carry out Covid-19 tests or wear face masks on their return.

In Scotland, children aged four to seven returned last month and older students are due to follow – part-time – from 15 March.

A similar timetable has been outlined in Wales, starting with those preparing for exams on the same date.

Children aged four to eight in Northern Ireland are also back on Monday, with secondary pupils aged 13 to 18 on 22 March. Others have to wait until April.

Main Photo: The closed doors of a high school in London, Britain. EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN

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