Primary schools to reopen as planned on Monday with secondary schools to reopen in full on January 18
The majority of primary schools will reopen as planned on Monday, January 4, with secondary school pupils due to take exams returning the following week.
Secondary schools will open to pupils in Year 11 and 13 on Monday, January 11, with all secondary school pupils and college students to return on January 18.
"In a small number of areas where the infection rates are highest, we will implement our existing contingency framework such as vulnerable children and the children of key workers attending for face to face lessons.
"This is being used as only as a last resort and not in all tier 4 areas. The overwhelming majority of primary schools will reopen on Monday," said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
He said the Government was working on a mass testing programme for primary schools.
From Monday, January 4, secondary schools and colleges will be preparing to test pupils and will open for the pupils of key workers or vulnerable pupils. Exam year groups will have lessons remotely that week.
They will be supported by the Army with testing beginning the following week "in earnest with those in exam years at the head of the queue", Mr Williamson said.
"This is in preparation for the full return of all pupils on January 18 in most areas."
Universities are also being asked to reduce the number of students returning in January and offer two rapid tests to all students.
More than 50,000 devices are being delivered to schools on January 4 to support online learning for children who need them most, and over 100,000 during the first week of term. This is in addition to 560,000 devices already delivered as the Government aims to deliver more than a million devices.
"So often we have had to close things down to try and beat this awful disease but with schools our best line of attack is to keep them open using the mass testing tools we now have available, so we can ensure that children benefit from a world class education," said Mr Williamson.
"As we continue to hear more encouraging news about the vaccine rollout I am more determined than ever that children will not have to pay the price for beating covid."