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The Government has confirmed which parts of the country will see extended primary school closures.
Children living in the worst affected areas will have to start the new term remotely, with primary schools in Covid hotspots unable to open until January 18.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said students in exam years will return to secondary schools a week later than planned, from January 11.
Other secondary and college students will go back full-time on January 18, he told MPs in Parliament.
The Government faced a backlash after not immediately providing a full list of primary schools facing closure alongside Williamson's statement.
However, it has since been confirmed that the guidance will apply in the following areas:
- Barking and Dagenham
- Hammersmith and Fulham
- Kensington and Chelsea
- Tower Hamlets
- Waltham Forest
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- Epping Forest
- Castle Point
- Southend on Sea
- Tonbridge and Malling
- Tunbridge Wells
- Milton Keynes
- Three Rivers
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There has been growing concern from teaching unions and scientists about the spread of the virus following the discovery of its much more transmissible variant, with rising case rates and hospital admissions in many parts of the country.
Mr Williamson told MPs in the Commons that the Government had to make an "immediate adjustment" to its plans for the reopening of schools in early January.
He said: "We must always act swiftly when circumstances change. The evidence about the new Covid variant and rising infection rates have required some immediate adjustment to our plans for the new term."
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He added: "The latest study we have from Public Health England is that Covid infections among children are triggered by changes in the community rate. The study also says that the wider impact of school closures on children's development would be significant.
"I'm quite clear that we must continue to do all we can to keep children in school."
Williamson said the Government expects to deliver 50,000 devices to schools across the country on January 4, to support remote and online learning, adding that 100,000 devices in total will be delivered during the first week of term.
It came after Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced millions more Brits will be living under Tier 3 and 4 restrictions from tomorrow morning, December 31.
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