We are aware of a small minority of councils suggesting they will close schools early for the Christmas break. It remains our expectation that all schools should stay open. We will continue to work with local authorities to support them with any operational issues.
School is the best place for children and that is why we are keeping them open until the end of term, with remote learning only if a pupil has to do so in order to follow clinical or public health advice. Closing schools early risks putting many pupils at a disadvantage, none more so than GCSE and A level students preparing to take exams.
Current guidance from the department states schools should only be closed as a last resort and both the Prime Minister and Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson have said that education remains a national priority.
SAGE (the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) were explicit in their recommendation that schools should stay open with documents published in November highlighting that school closures put educational outcomes at risk, especially for disadvantaged students.
Recently, the ONS COVID-19 Infection Survey published results between 2 September (the start of the school year) to 16 October 2020` showed no evidence of differences in the positivity rate between primary and secondary school teachers, other key workers and other professions.
Additional analysis published on the 26 November showed no clear evidence from the survey as to whether there was a difference in the level of individuals who would test positive for COVID-19 between teachers and other key workers.
A DfE spokesperson said:
It is a national priority to keep education settings open full time and it is vital that children remain in school until the end of the term.
Schools, colleges and early years settings across the country have worked tremendously hard to put protective measures in place that are helping reduce the risk of the virus being transmitted and our regional school commissioner teams continue to support local authorities and school trusts to remain open and help resolve any operational issues.