Are schools closing early for Christmas due to coronavirus?

SCHOOLS across the UK could shut earlier than usual for Christmas in a bid to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The government's schools minister has offered an inset day, but unions have demanded for much more time off – with clashes likely to be ahead, here's what we know.

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Will schools close early for Christmas?

Nick Gibb told MPs that heads would be able to hold inset days at the end of term to ensure a “clear six days” before Christmas Eve.

However, unions have asked for schools across the UK to be closed 14 days before Christmas, on December 11th.

Earlier, Boris Johnson urged against union demands, and told parents not to take their kids out of school early and said that all pupils should finish the term as normal.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford also said he did not want schools to shut again.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Welsh Government said: "We have had regular dialogue with local authorities and unions throughout the pandemic and these discussions continue.

"Our priority remains ensuring that all children and young people's education continues with as little disruption as possible."

Why could schools close early for Christmas?

Unions have called for schools right across the UK to be closed a week early – on December 11 rather than seven days later.

The idea is to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Dilwyn Roberts-Young, general secretary of teaching union UCAC, has written to education Minister Kirsty Williams calling for schools to shut on December 11.

The letter read: "The fact that pupils and students will continue to attend an educational setting a week before Christmas Day is raising serious concerns for our members.

"If a pupil/student tested positive with Covid-19 during the last week of term, it would mean that the whole bubble would have to self-isolate, preventing them from joining their extended family for Christmas.

"The same could be true for the education workforce.

"In addition, Test, Trace and Protect could continue to contact school and colleges leaders on Christmas Day, which is totally unacceptable."

Will there be an inset day on December 18?

Schools Standards Minister Nick Gibb said schools can take an inset day next Friday and finish term early for Christmas.

He says this will allow both students and staff to have a "proper break" without having to "engage in the track and trace issues" on Christmas Eve.

It appears that the inset day must be taken from 2021's allocated days, as per Schools Week.

Current guidance states schools must take “swift action” if they are made aware of a covid outbreak.

Teachers are expected to be available for the first six days of the school holidays to help with informing families if they need to isolate.

When do schools currently break up for Christmas?

There is no one set date across the UK for schools to break up for the Christmas holiday although the majority of schools are set to break up on December 18.

Some though are set to finish as late as December 21, but with the new inset day proposed, it's likely many will close on December 18.

If the union's plan goes ahead, which asks for even more days off for the holidays, children wouldn’t have to turn up to school a week earlier than originally planned.

Although, they suggest that lessons could still take place online for the final week.

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