All schools in England will return to face-to-face teaching for all from March 8, the prime minister has confirmed in the House of Commons, the BBC reports.
Newly-released operational guidance for schools confirms that secondary school pupils will be expected to wear masks in classrooms “unless social distancing can be maintained” and be tested in school before they return to lessons.
After three tests in school, parents will be expected to carry out twice-weekly testing of their children at home.
There are no plans so far for primary school children to either wear masks in classroom or be subject to mass asymptomatic testing.
The government has also stressed that it will be compulsory for parents to send their children to school and fines can be imposed on those failing to do so.
“All the evidence shows that classrooms are the best places for our young people to be,” Mr Johnson told MPs this afternoon.
But Geoff Barton, leader ASCL, warned the plan for the “big bang” return to school “runs the risk of increasing the rate of infection and prolonging the damaging cycle of stop-start schooling”.
Individual schools can decide how year groups go back during the week of March 8, but Mr Barton has said that the burden of testing would mean it should be staggered over a minimum of two weeks.
In Scotland, younger primary pupils have already returned to school, along with some exam year students in secondary school. A wider reopening has yet to be decided.
In Wales, younger primary years have also returned on Monday – with older primary pupils set to go back on 15 March if Covid levels continue to fall.
In Northern Ireland, younger primary pupils will return to classrooms on 8 March.