Matt Hancock says he ‘hopes’ Covid-hit schools will be able to reopen by Easter (but it depends on the data)

Michael Howie
·2-min read
<p>The original intention to reopen schools after February half-term is seeming less likely</p> (PA)

The original intention to reopen schools after February half-term is seeming less likely

(PA)

Matt Hancock has said he “hopes” schools will be able to reopen by Easter, but it will depend on Covid-19 data.

“I would hope so,” the Health Secretary said, when asked during an interview on Sky News if schools would be open then.

“But...we’ve got to look at the data, we’ve got to look at the impact of the vaccination programme ... The education secretary said that he will ensure that schools have two weeks’ notice of return and I don’t know whether it will be before then,” he told Sophie Ridge on Sunday.

Schools have been closed to most pupils since January 5 as part of a national lockdown.

His comments came amid reports children may not be able to go back to school for months.

Watch: Still 'a long, long way' until lockdown restrictions can be lifted, says Matt Hancock

According to The Sunday Times, education secretary Gavin Williamson is this week likely to rule out children returning to the classroom after the February half-term holiday, as he prepares parents for weeks more of home-schooling.

As recently as Thursday, Mr Williamson said that he hoped schools would be able to reopen before Easter, although Downing Street pointedly declined to endorse his comments.

Asked if there needed to be a tightening of restrictions, Mr Hancock said: "Well there is early evidence that the lockdown is starting to bring cases down, but we're a long, long, long way from being low enough because the case rate was incredibly high and you can see the pressure on the NHS, you can see it every day.

"The NHS are doing an amazing job in incredibly difficult circumstances and so we, I am confident in the measures that we've got in place now. What really matters is that everybody follows them and the reason for that is not just the death toll each day which is far too high but also because the pressure on the NHS - including from people who thankfully come out of hospital alive - the pressure on the NHS is enormous and that has knock-on consequences for people who suffer from all other illnesses.

"So it is very, very important that we continue to follow the rules, that's at the core of it even whilst we do everything we can to support the NHS through this."

Watch: Enjoy Education give top tips for homeschooling

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