Schools preparing to close next term as pupils given laptops to take home for January

SCHOOLS are preparing to close to next term with pupils given laptops to study at home in January.

Dozens of councils have reportedly moved some classes online already as the Omicron wave hits Britain.

It comes as The Sun revealed schools are already drawing up plans to stay shut in January as fears over the new variant grow.

The most recent government data shows 236,000 pupils were absent from school due to Covid last week – the second highest number on record.

Parent now face the nightmare of having to home school their children again despite previous government insistence that classrooms will stay open in January.

Mums and dads were forced to take time off work to teach their kids during previous lockdowns.

Bosses were hit by a wave of absent staff as parents switched to home schooling.

But on Monday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid admitted there were "no guarantees" schools would reopen next month if Omicron cases continue to skyrocket.

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Several schools have already shut early due to staff shortages or Omicron concerns.

Others are preparing for home schooling and bringing in new restrictions.

Steve Chalke, head of the Oasis Academy chain, said his schools are preparing to bring back bubbles, rota lessons, staggered starts and an extension of mask wearing.

🔵 Read our Covid-19 live blog for the latest updates

He said: “We are quite prepared for online learning. If we get to January 2 and the Prime Minister says all schools need to be shut, we are prepared.

“January is the great unknown. But Omicron is sweeping London now and it is going to sweep the country.”

He said around 400 of his 4,000 teachers are off sick — and warned this number could “treble or quadruple”.

More than 30 local authorities told the BBC that some classes had moved online at schools.

Children at two East London primary schools will be sent home with laptops when they break up for Christmas.

Jo Franklin, head of the Letta Trust, which manages the schools, said: "This picture is changing on a daily basis. We've had seven new staff cases so far this week.

"Teachers are making sure that everything they plan to teach in the first week of the new term can be taught remotely if it needs to be,.

Ms Franklin said she was worried about staff being off sick in the new year.

She said: "Some people are telling us that they are having problems booking a booster, with no appointments available until mid-January."

There will come a point when we cannot safely keep classes open

"There will come a point when we cannot safely keep classes open."

Geoff Barton, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said schools were already seeing “severe low attendance” due to so many pupils being ill with Covid.

Last night, Boris Johnson urged parents to get their kids jabbed before they return to the classroom in January to keep schools open.

His call to action came after Britain recorded the highest ever number of Covid cases since the start of the pandemic, with 78,610 new infections.

Total Omicron cases in the UK are now 10,017, but the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) estimates daily infections were around 200,000 on December 13.

The PM said 12 to 15-year-olds will be able to get their second dose of the life-saving Covid jab from Monday.

"We know how crucial it is to keep children in schools so let's all make sure our children and young people are vaccinated before they go back next term," he said.

The PM issued a rallying cry today for people to roll up their sleeves and help the national battle against the super-strain as he ramped up his plea for Brits to get boosters.

Data shows boosters offer up to 75 per cent protection from mild infection from Omicron, with The Sun relaunching our hugely successful Jabs Army campaign.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "The best place for children – who have in many respects suffered the most through this pandemic – is in school, receiving vital face-to-face education."


VOLUNTEERS can register online at or by scanning the QR code above with your smartphone.

You will be asked to download the GoodSAM Responder app, which will match you to a role.

You need commit to only two six-hour shifts a month at a jabs centre. Your expenses will be covered and no ex­perience or qualifications are needed.

You will be in a team  with  NHS   staff and volunteers. The Royal Voluntary Service will make appropriate background checks.


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