Youngest pupils in Wales, Scotland return to classroom as schools reopen

2021-02-22 16:05:31 GMT2021-02-23 00:05:31(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

LONDON, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Youngest pupils in Wales and Scotland returned to the classroom Monday as the phased reopening of schools started there.

Children in Primary One to Three are due back in Scottish schools from Monday, along with some senior secondary pupils who need to do practical work for qualifications.

Scottish Education Secretary John Swinney urged parents to act responsibly during the first phase of lockdown easing, insisting that the biggest threat to the opening of schools is not outbreaks in schools but rather "community transmission".

He said "detailed clinical analysis" assured him it is safe to reopen schools in phases, adding that case prevalence data would be closely monitored to determine the impact of the phase one return.

Meanwhile in Wales, children aged three to seven also started a phased return to face-to-face teaching from Monday, along with some students on practical college courses.

Other primary pupils, and years 11 and 13, are due to return on March 15 if COVID-19 case rates continue to fall, while secondary school pupils could all be back in school after the Easter break in April, the Welsh government said.

In England, all schools are expected to reopen from March 8, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he would take a "prudent" approach to lift the lockdown to ensure the process is "irreversible".

However, John Edmunds, a member of the British government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), warned Sunday that opening schools all at once is likely to push the R rate, also known as the coronavirus reproduction number, above one in Britain.

The professor also said vaccinating all adults by the end of July will make a "huge difference" but cautioned the vaccine will not give 100 percent protection.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines. Enditem