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Covid news: ‘New wave could easily take off again’ amid confusion over back-to-school testing

Kate Ng and Samuel Osborne
·2-min read
An Independent poll suggests one in three people are worried schools are opening too early in England (Danny Lawson/PA )
An Independent poll suggests one in three people are worried schools are opening too early in England (Danny Lawson/PA )

Schools in England welcomed students back into classrooms on Monday and care homes began permitting one regular visitor indoors, as part of the first step towards easing the coronavirus lockdown.

Boris Johnson praised parents and teachers as he welcomed the return of millions of children to the classroom in England.

The prime ninister told a Downing Street press conference the return marked a "big day and an emotional day" for millions of families across England.

He said: "We all know that the education of our children is so important that the greater risk now is keeping them out of school for a day longer.

"I want to thank all the teachers who have got their schools ready and who have been teaching throughout the period - whether that is remotely or in person. Your work has been astonishing."

Mr Johnson also thanked parents who have been teaching their children at home and said: "We all know that the burden has disproportionately fallen on women - often holding down jobs and providing childcare at the same time."

He said the government's job was to ensure pupils not only catch up on lost learning but "take the biggest possible step forwards with a concerted national programme for educational recovery".

Most primary schools hav opened for all pupils, but secondary schools are taking a more phased approach, with students taking regular Covid tests and wearing face masks in classrooms to reduce the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of care home residents in England will be able to receive regular indoor visits from a nominated loved one.

Visitors will be tested beforehand, must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and will be allowed to hold hands, but not hug or kiss their loved ones.

Rules around meeting a person from another household outdoors will also be loosened this week, which means people can leave home to meet one other person for a coffee or picnic outside.