Boris Johnson is under pressure to open schools early as Tory MPs urge him to get kids back in class after half term

BORIS Johnson is under pressure to reopen schools early as some Tory MPs backed a call to get kids back in class after half term.

The Prime Minister has announced schools cannot reopen before March 8, but 18 Conservative MPs have backed UsforThem – a campaign calling for schools to reopen on February 22.

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Among those backing the pledge are former Cabinet minister Esther McVey, ex-ministers Steve Baker, Tim Loughton and Harriet Baldwin, The Telegraph reports.

Ms Mcvey said today: "With the vaccination rollout going so well on the one hand, and the huge amount of harm we’re causing to children by not giving them an education on the other, I really hope that we can open school gates, classrooms and playgrounds on February 22.  

"It’s simply not right to keep children locked up like this, especially once we’ve vaccinated the top four at risk groups."

Sir Graham Brady, Chairman of the 1922 committee of backbench Conservative MPs, is also backing the campaign.

Conservative MP Karl McCartney said children should be allowed back to class from February 22 as school closures are causing a "huge amount of harm" to them.

'HUGE HARM'

Some scientists have also backed calls to reopen schools after half term.

University of East Anglia professor of medicine Paul Hunter said: "I think there could well be a case for opening schools sooner – I particularly think schools for children under 11 years of age, where the evidence that they contribute to the spread of the epidemic in the wider population is a lot lower."

The PM said he "understands people want to go further" and get back to normal as quickly as possible – and insisted: "I share that urgency."

But he vowed not to open schools too soon to avoid the risk of the nation being "forced into reverse" in case coronavirus infections start to rise once again.

The PM added: "This is the cautious approach, it's much better to stick to that."

Mr Johnson said March 8 would be the "earliest" the Government think any lockdown rules can be relaxed.

Only children of key workers are currently allowed to go to school, while most pupils are studying from home.

Some parents have been accused of falsely claiming key worker status in a bid to send kids to class after the Department of Education widened the categories of vulnerable children who can still attend. 

For this reason, schools are contacting parents' workplaces to check that they are not lying about being key workers.

Scotland and Wales have recently announced they aim to reopen schools on February 22, but Boris Johnson insisted the number of coronavirus cases in England is still "alarmingly high".

A senior government source said: "We will proceed cautiously and carefully to open up based on the best available scientific evidence and data and to avoid a resurgence in the virus.

"The Prime Minister has been clear that our first step must be to reopen schools."

 

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