‘We can’t give a date’ for when schools will return, minister says

No date has been set for when schools will reopen, the education secretary has confirmed.

Gavin Williamson, speaking at the Downing Street briefing, said: “People are anxious to know when we’re going to relax restrictions, when schools are likely to be fully back and open again.

“Of course, I want nothing more than to see schools back, get them back to normal, make sure the children are sat around, learning, and experiencing the joy of being at school.

“But I can’t give you a date.

“Because before we do, we need to meet five tests.”

Michael Gove

‘Too early to lift UK lockdown’

Mr Williamson praised parents for dealing with home-schooling children during the COVID-19 lockdown.

He said: “I recognise all the challenges that families will be facing at the moment.

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“We are determined to support parents who are helping their children learn from home.

“I think we all know how difficult that can be.”

Earlier Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, appearing on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, denied reports that the government has devised a graduated plan to start easing the coronavirus lockdown within weeks.

The Mail on Sunday reported that schools and businesses could be allowed to reopen in mid-May.

Asked if it was correct that the government was considering a “traffic light” strategy to come out of lockdown, Mr Gove said: “No, it is not.”

:: Listen to Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

Mr Gove said the government was “looking at all of the evidence”, adding: “We’ve set some tests which need to be passed before we can think of easing restrictions in this lockdown.

“We’re looking at the data, it is the case that the rate of infection appears to be flattening, but we do not want to take steps too early because the most important thing is to make sure that the NHS and the public’s health is protected.”