Gavin Williamson says he wants “nothing more than reopening schools” but cannot give a date until the criteria for locking out coronaviruses are met

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The education secretary reiterated the government’s position that he can’t set a date for schools after reports that the children could be back in the classroom in just three weeks.

At Sunday’s press conference in Downing Street, Gavin Williamson said he understood that the public was “impatient to know when we are going to ease the restrictions.”

He said, “Of course, I want nothing more than to go back to the schools, get them back to normal, make sure the kids are sitting, learning and having the joy of being in school.

“But I can’t give you a date. “

He insisted that five criteria should be met before any relaxation of social distancing measures could be implemented.

Speaking on these criteria, Mr Williamson said: “First, we must protect the ability of the NHS to cope and be sure that it can continue to provide intensive care and specialist treatment throughout the UK.

“Second, we need to see lower daily death rates from coronaviruses.

“Third, we need to have reliable data that shows that the infection rate is falling to manageable levels.

“Fourth, we must be convinced that testing capacity and PPE are managed, with an offer capable of meeting not only today’s demand, but future demand.

“And fifth, and perhaps most importantly, we must be convinced that any change we make does not risk a second spike in infections.

“When we can be sure that we have reached these five essential points, we can think about getting children back into school, learning, mastering new ideas and finding friends.”

Gavin Williamson describes five tests that must be met before schools reopen

Mr. Williamson congratulated the parents on the children attending home school during the current lockout.

He said, “I recognize all the challenges that families will face right now. We are committed to supporting parents who help their children learn from home.

“I think we all know how difficult it can be.”

He then offered a direct address to school children across the country, Mr. Williamson, saying, “To all the kids watching, I wanted to tell you how sorry I am that you interrupted your studies in this way.

“I know how difficult it must be, and I would like to thank you for making the adjustments you had to make.

“I know you will miss your friends, your teachers and your lessons.

“I want you to know that you are also such an important part of this fight, and I can’t thank you enough for everything you do.” “

Regarding measures taken in schools in other European countries to open them earlier, such as reducing class sizes, Mr. Williamson said: “Are we looking at other countries and learning from them? Absolutely.

“And we see some examples of countries opening up their school systems and we will take a close look at how it works, how it works and what lessons can be learned so that we can benefit from it.” “

His comments came after Michael Gove rejected suggestions that the government had plans for a three-tier relaxation of the restrictions.

According to reports, a “traffic light” strategy was about to be implemented, allowing some schools and businesses to reopen in mid-May.

Speaking on Sunday’s Sophy Ridge on Sky News program, Gove said: “It is true that we are looking at all the evidence. We have defined tests that must be passed before thinking of relaxing the restrictions in this lock.

“It is very important that when we are still making sure that we can reduce the infection rate and also the number of deaths, we maintain the number of stages that we have. “

The number of deaths in hospitals in the UK has now exceeded 16,000, with thousands more expected in nursing homes.

The health ministry said 16,060 people died in hospitals on Saturday at 5 p.m., 596 more than the day before.

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