Minister gives update on how schools opening decision can be made

Schools are set to remain shut during lockdown until key government tests are met, the Education Secretary said.

Gavin Williamson said coronavirus measures which have seen schools shut for all but the children of key workers who cannot be schooled at home would continue for the time being.

Appearing at one of the daily Downing Street press conferences for the first time, Mr Williamson confirmed schools would remain shut despite reports today that the government could be planning to reopen them in May.

He said he could not give a date on when schools would reopen, stating the government's five tests measuring the progress of the virus must be met before that could happen.

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Mr Williamson said: "When we can be sure that we have met these five essential points, we can think about getting children into schools again."

He added: "We will work with the sector to consider how best to reopen schools, nurseries and colleges – when the time is right."

Mr Wiliamson praised school, nursery and university workers.

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He said teachers had played a key role in ensuring frontline medical staff could do their jobs, and that he was "proud and inspired" by the efforts of those in the education sector to respond to the crisis.

At the start of the press conference, Mr Williamson said ordinarily children would be going back to school on Monday.

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He said: "These are not normal times, and we're asking you to stay at home.

"I know this has not been easy, but it is the surest way that we have to protect the NHS, and to save lives."

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