England schools cancelled Christmas nativities, and prohibited pupils from other year groups from mixing while they were being tested for Covid.

Surrey Council told schools to stop holding large events that might lead to people coming from many different backgrounds. This is the second year in a row of festive plays being suspended. Manchester Schools took the same approach, banning parents from coming to nativities.

Ministers have ruled that schoolchildren should wear facemasks in ‘communal areas’ including hallways and said close contacts of those who test positive for the so-called ‘Omicron’ mutation – including children – must self-isolate for 10 days. 

Teachers unions demand that the government expand facemasks in classrooms. Association of School and College Leaders called for Ministers’ encouragement of twice-weekly home Covid Testing ‘to reduce the risk of transmitting’.

MPs and furious parents have claimed that the restrictions would cause chaos and worsen children’s education. The campaign group UsForThem, who fought for schools to reopen during the pandemic and called it a ‘unforgiveable’ plan to force children in their health to be isolated, warned that this would lead to ‘unmitigated catastrophes’. 

After one Covid-positive teacher was identified, another school put in a ‘circuit breaker’ to send its pupils home. St Mary’s Primary school in Hertfordshire was closed today because of a “staff shortage” and will be shut down until all personnel are tested for Covid.

There were several closures of head teachers in Herefordshire and Lancashire last week. In London, there was also confirmation that Covid had been spread. Schools in Essex and Suffolk cancelled dance, art and other extracurricular activities.

In England, three cases have been identified of the new Omicron variant. A patient in Essex is not considered to be seriously ill. He is also said to be able communicate with his family. However, health officials are now investigating possible connections they may have made at the KFC in Brentwood and school before they became aware they were sick. The variant is being checked on the pupils at the school and possibly the contacts at Brentwood’s KFC.

Ministers tightened Covid policies in light of an apparent spike in child suicide rates and growing concerns over the possible spread of the variant in England or Scotland.

Teaching unions are demanding that the Government go further by expanding facemasks to classrooms

Teachers unions demand that the government expand facemasks in classrooms.

Today another school imposed a ¿circuit breaker¿ and sent its pupils home after just one Covid case was detected among its teachers. St Mary¿s Primary School in Hertfordshire is closed today due to a ¿staff shortage¿ and will remain shut until all staff are tested for the virus

After one Covid-related case in its staff, another school put in a ‘circuit breaker’ today and sent its pupils home. St Mary’s Primary School, Hertfordshire has been closed due to staff shortage. It will stay shut until all employees are tested.

Ministers have ruled that schoolchildren should wear facemasks in ¿communal areas¿ including hallways and said close contacts of those who test positive for the so-called ¿Omicron¿ mutation ¿ including children ¿ must self-isolate for 10 days

Ministers have ruled that schoolchildren should wear facemasks in ‘communal areas’ including hallways and said close contacts of those who test positive for the so-called ‘Omicron’ mutation – including children – must self-isolate for 10 days

Some six Covid cases have bene detected in Scotland, taking the UK's total infections to nine. The other three were detected in Brentwood, pictured, Westminster and Nottingham. Up to 225 'possible' cases are also being investigated

Six Covid cases were found in Scotland. This brings the total number of infections in the UK to nine. These three additional Covid cases were found in Brentwood, Westminster and Nottingham. Additional investigation is underway into up to 225 possible cases.

Schools may close early due to a surge in Covid cases 

With a rising number of Covid cases, many schools are now facing the possibility of having to close their doors for Christmas.

As the number of students and teachers test positive for the virus, it is being transferred to remote education.

Oxford Academy currently is in the middle, or so it says, “circuitbreaker” for years 7, 8, and 9. The pupils are being taught at home.

According to the school, they had tried everything in their power to hire staff but were now at a stage where it was not possible.

During this time, St Mary’s Church of England Primary in Hereford and Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio, Lancashire, will also be closed for at most five days.

Great Kimble Church of England School, Buckinghamshire closed two days ago due to staff absences. Seven additional schools were closed partially for part of the week.

Outwood Academy Acklam Middlesbrough’s year 9 students were taught from their homes for 3 days. Ifield Community College Crawley West Sussex had each group spend one day at home.

According to the Department for Education (DfE), schools are not allowed to send large numbers home in “extreme circumstances” or as a last resort.

Parents are worried that schools could close earlier than expected due to rising numbers.

MPs and furious parents have made it clear that the restrictions would cause chaos in schools and worsen children’s education. The campaign group UsForThem, who fought for schools to reopen during the pandemic warned that “forcing children with health problems to isolate” is an ‘unmitigated catastrophe”. It also called such plans ‘unforgivable”.

Molly Kingsley (founder and co-founder of UsForThem) urged Ministers not to exclude children from self-isolation rules. He added that this would create chaos in classrooms.

“Asking kids to be quarantined is not an acceptable precaution. This is dangerous for children who do not have a high-risk of getting sick.” The Government should have an exemption to children in this moment of the pandemic.

Steve Baker (Tory backbencher) said that Covid Recovery Group deputy chairman and lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group vice chairman, stated that the Government needed to explain “when all this will come to an end”.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith was the ex-Conservative leader. He said, “We’ve already seen an alarming number of kids who missed education.” It is clear, therefore, that no reason should be given for children to not attend school.

He stated that news stories encouraging healthy children to isolate themselves should be “reviewed very carefully, in light of an already massive problem with children not getting education”.

Schools and childcare providers were notified by the Department of Education via email. They advised that students and staff should wear face covers in communal settings, except where they are allowed to.

“Pupils and students in Year 7 or higher should still wear facial coverings when travelling on school buses, public transport or dedicated school transportation, except where they are otherwise exempt.

This update is coming after the UK Health and Security Agency, (UKHSA), said that an individual who was no longer within the country tested positive for Omicron variant. The person had traveled to Westminster, London, and contracted the disease.

Omicron is believed to be more transmissible that the Delta-dominant variant.

This organism was initially identified in South Africa, but it has since been discovered in Hong Kong and Belgium as well as in the Netherlands.

Nadhim Zahawi, Education Secretary, stated that the news about a new version – called Omicron variant- has caused concerns for many people in our country. This includes our teachers, childcare workers, parents, students, and educators.

“We already take targeted and proportionate actions as a precaution until we learn more about this variant.

“As we do this, we will continue prioritising children’s’ and young peoples’ education and well-being, making sure that education and childcare settings remain as safe and secure as possible, and children still benefit from classroom instruction.

We are working closely with schools and childcare to increase safety, such as issuing isolation for close contact of Omicron cases for 10 days.

It comes after another 37,681 Covid cases and 51 deaths were recorded in the UK yesterday

This comes just days after 51 additional Covid deaths and 37,681 Covid cases were reported in the UK

Teachers are warned by the government that secondary schools must conduct on-site Covid testing after students return from Christmas break in order to stop transmissions ‘after a period of social mixing. 

It was discovered that secondary schools should prepare for on-site Covid testing after Christmas break.

Headteachers have been emailed by the Department for Education (DfE), asking them to perform asymptomatic testing beginning in 2022.

It is intended to decrease transmission after a time of social mixing during the Christmas break.

It was acknowledged by the DfE as a “significant request” and schools have less than 3 working days to place orders for the necessary lateral flow testing kit.

Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), attacked both the tardiness of the announcement and its extra burden on secondaries.

They accused the government by treating schools as an ‘ad-hoc branch of NHS’. It demanded that they ‘handle logistics for staffing and settingup testing stations.

DfE’s email to schools stated that it wanted secondary schools to be ready to take their pupils to the DfE site for testing upon return to school in January.

While we understand this additional demand is significant, testing still plays an important role in keeping Covid-19 away from schools.

The school should test all students in their school. This will boost participation and reduce transmission.

“Tests, funding for your workforce and PPE will continue to be available as usual. The government has established guidelines for the testing of return pupils.

“I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who works to support our young children and youth for their hard work and patience.”

According to the Department for Education, this guidance will only be in effect for three weeks and then it will be reviewed.

Students aged 7 years and over should still wear facial coverings, unless exempted by the DfE. Both students and staff should be encouraged to perform lateral flow testing twice weekly.

According to the department, schools and colleges, outside of educational settings, will “want to think about” whether they should continue with planned international travel at this time due to potential risks to their education, including the need to test and isolate when returning from the UK.

Geoff Barton is the general secretary of Association of School and College Leaders. He stated that the Association supports these measures as a sensible response to risks from the Omicron version of Covid-19.

He added that “this worrying situation however emphasizes the need to receive better support by the government for the education sector.”

Kevin Courtney was joint general secretary for the National Education Union. Courtney stated: “We are pleased with the DfE guidance that masks should be worn in communal areas by children and adults in year 7 and beyond. We believe the DfE should encourage mask wearing in secondary classrooms, and invest to improve air quality and ventilation.

“These actions can help to decrease the spread of Covid, and thus reduce disruptions in education. Omicron clarifies the threat to education disruption by requiring that any Omicron contact, including staff and pupils, must be self-isolated for ten days.

General secretary of NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union Dr Patrick Roach welcomed the guidelines but said: “If schools want to remain safe during this term, then the Government must accept that its messaging needs be stronger, and that rules regarding isolation of close contact need to be strong and clear.

According to him, the government should reconsider its recommendations to make it mandatory for close family members to be self-isolated if they develop Covid-19 symptoms.

Dr Roach stated that a significant number of students don’t take the twice weekly lateral flow test. The Government should devise a better strategy for Covid testing in order to keep schools open and safe, as well as provide the necessary resources.

After another 37.681 Covid cases, and 51 deaths in the UK yesterday, it is now.

Today’s Department of Health official infection count is 5.8% lower than the 40,004 reported last Sunday. Meanwhile, death rates from Covid within 28 days of being tested positive fell 16.4% from last week.

Since the start of the epidemic, the UK has seen an average of 30,000 to 50,000 cases per day. There have also been fewer deaths than in previous waves.