Today the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, made an announcement to the House of Commons about schools reopening in September.
Pupils will be forming class or year ‘bubbles’, which will allow children to mix without social distancing, by staggering start and finish times for groups to keep them apart during breaks and lunch.
For the limited number of students that have been back in classrooms recently, they have been made to practise social distancing – however, many parents have raised concerns regarding the plausibility of this, particularly with young children.
According to additional guidance seen by the Telegraph, kids could risk expulsion if they disobey bubble or hygiene rules.
However, teachers are expected to be given guidance on enforcing these measures, and it’s expected the possibility of being expelled would only be used ‘as a last resort’ if they break the rules.
It will be a ‘mandatory’ return to school for all pupils in September, the education secretary announced, and as such parents could be fined £120 if they don’t send their kids back at the start of the autumn term.
Lunch breaks will be staggered to keep bubbles apart and if a pupil tests positive for coronavirus, classmates will have to self-isolate.
On top of that, teachers have been told to overhaul the curriculum to ‘address gaps in knowledge’, due to the amount of school kids have missed.
There will be ‘substantial modifications’ to the curriculum to help children catch up from their six months out because of lockdown.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I know these past three months have been some of the most challenging that schools have faced.
“What they have achieved to make sure that young people are kept safe and can continue to learn during this period is remarkable, and I am incredibly grateful for that.
“Nothing can replace being in the classroom, so ever since schools, colleges and nurseries closed to most children, we have been working hard to ensure they can reopen as soon as possible.
“We have already seen more than 1.5 million children and young people return, but we must make sure all pupils can go back to school in September, giving them the opportunity to thrive and fulfill their potential.
“I want to reassure parents and families that we are doing everything we can to make sure schools, nurseries, colleges and other providers are as safe as possible for children and staff, and will continue to work closely with the country’s best scientific and medical experts to ensure that is the case.”
And finally, classrooms will be rearranged to enable social distancing and windows will be open to allow for airflow.
The government continues to insist it is safe for all children to go back to school if they can, and that it could be more detrimental to them for missing out on education.
This comes despite the recent outbreak in Leicester having a high infection rate in youngsters.
You can see all of the government’s latest guidance here.
Teachers, police officers and shop workers might be given priority in next vaccine rollout phase
Officials are considering who should be a priority in the next phase of the vaccine rollout.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi says they are looking into jobs that come into close contact with the public and considering if they should be given priority access.
This means the likes of teachers, police officers and shop workers could be in the next phase of the vaccine rollout.
The decision will be made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), and Matt Hancock has called for a national debate on prioritisation.
Mr Zahawi told Times Radio: “Teachers, police officers, shop workers, those who through no fault of their own, other than the work that they do, may come into contact with the virus at much greater volume [should be] the top of the list.”
Outlining how a decision on priority should be made, Matt Hancock said at the Downing Street press conference on Monday: “The clinical advice is to go through the top groups… and then after that it is essentially about protecting people as well as possible according to a judgment about who should come next.
“That is why we should have a debate about that.
“Ninety-nine per cent of deaths occur in the top nine groups and after that it is about protecting against transmission and getting life back to normal as soon as possible.”
Currently, the order of priority for phase one is:
- Care home residents and their carers
- Those 80 and over, and frontline health and social care workers
- Those 75 and over
- Those 70 and over, and clinically extremely vulnerable people
- Those 65 and over
- People between 16-65 with underlying health conditions which put them at risk of more serious illness from COVID-19
- Those 60 and over
- Those 55 and over
- Those 50 and over
A petition calling for teachers, school and childcare staff to be prioritised has now gained 470,000 signatures with some arguing it could help with schools reopening.
The chairman of the Police Federation John Apter has called for police officers to be given the vaccine as soon as possible.
Dorset Police have also backed the calls after two officers tested positive for Covid-19 at an anti-lockdown rally in Bournemouth.
One of the officers said: “Police officers shouldn’t be the first in line for the vaccine and we know the risks of our job, but we see vast amounts of people every day.
“If a call comes in, we have to go to it; we can’t say we won’t go to it. And we are putting ourselves, and our families at risk, every single day.”
Jeremy Clarkson ‘fed up’ with people ‘whingeing’ over quality of the free school meal parcels
“I am fed up to the back teeth of the whingeing this story unleashed”
Jeremy Clarkson says he’s ‘really quite fed up’ with certain people ‘whingeing’ over the quality of free school meals.
Multi-millionaire Jeremy Clarkson who regularly shares his troubles online – like that time his chef prepared truffles for breakfast, or that time he couldn’t decide which of his Range Rovers to use – has pitched in with his views on the quality of the government’s free school meals for children.
While Clarkson can agree that there is some ‘shameless profiteering’ going on, he can’t help but point out that he is ‘fed up to the back teeth of the whingeing’ from ‘certain people’.
Writing in his Sunday Times column, the Grand Tour host said: “On the food front, I think [Marcus Rashford’s] fight is noble and well-judged, and I agree that some shameless profiteering is going on.”
The journalist, who is estimated to be worth around £60m, added: “But I am fed up to the back teeth of the whingeing this story unleashed.
“We live in a country where children from less well-off families are entitled to free lunches when they are at home. Yippee.
“But instead of celebrating that fact, and concentrating on making sure the food they get is not half an ounce of mould and a dead dog, I heard a woman on the news the other day demanding that she be given £30 to provide lunch for her child. Thirty quid? Where’s she going to take him? Fortnum & Mason?”
The presenter went on to blast those who would prefer a supermarket voucher than the food hampers, suggesting they would exchange it for ‘fags and scratchcards’.
But bashing hungry kids wasn’t enough for Clarkson on this particular Sunday, when he eventually turned his attention to teachers in his column titled ‘Where’s our Dunkirk spirit? Indoors, moaning that the sea’s a bit choppy and the boat smells’.
He wrote: “And don’t get me started on teachers, because, as far as I can tell, instead of working out how they will educate their pupils in these troubled times, every single one of them is to be found on the news every night, with his laptop at the wrong angle and a terrible painting in the background, saying that Boris Johnson should buy every child in the land an iPad and that no teacher should have to work again, ever.”
He concluded: “In the olden days, a British person would have dealt with these trials by going outside to help push the stuck vaccine delivery lorry. But not any more.
“Now, we’re more likely to storm out of the tent in a sulk of shuddering shoulders and tears, saying, ‘I am just going outside and may be some time — and if you don’t like it, you can all eff off. And I want a free laptop’.”
Following the widespread pressure from the public after images of the food hampers emerged across social media last week the government reintroduced school vouchers for eligible pupils.
A report published in December by the Social Market Foundation estimated that 14% of British children – totalling to 1.7 million children – have suffered such persistent hunger over the course of the coronavirus pandemic they could be classed as enduring ‘very low food security’.
Aldi to give 30,000 staff a pay rise to say thanks for their hard work during the pandemic
Aldi has confirmed they will be giving 30,000 members of staff a pay rise, with some earning £11.32 an hour.
The biggest pay rise will be seen by workers in London who have been employed by Aldi for at least two years.
The minimum hourly wage outside of the M25 will see a 15p rise too, from £9.40 to £9.55 for all newly-employed staff.
The pay rise will come into play from February 1st, 2021 and will affect 30,000 members of staff on minimum wage.
The new pay exceeds the Living Wage Foundation’s recommendation of £9.50 an hour nationally and £10.85 in London.
The supermarket pays all staff for their breaks on shift. Plus the ‘vast majority’ of managers will also get a pay rise, but it is yet to be confirmed how much by.
Giles Hurley, chief executive officer, Aldi UK and Ireland said: “I want to express my sincere thanks to every single Aldi colleague who stepped up when it mattered.
“Their outstanding efforts have ensured that our customers continue to have access to fresh affordable food, every single day.
“It has never been more important to ensure that our colleagues are rewarded fully for their immense contribution during a challenging period for everyone.”
The news comes after Morrisons announced 96,000 of their workers will receive a pay rise to at least £10 an hour.
Morrisons became the first UK supermarket to pay at least £10 an hour, with the rise coming into play in April.
David Potts, Morrisons CEO, said: “It’s great to be able to say that in the UK from April this year, if you work at Morrisons supermarkets, you will earn at least £10 an hour.
“It’s a symbolic and important milestone that represents another step in rewarding the incredibly important work that our colleagues do up and down the country.”
He added: “Morrisons colleagues have earned their status as key workers, and this pay increase, many times over.”