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Schools ‘preparing to stay closed in January’ If Omicron case soar

Schools are said to be preparing contingency plans to stay shut after Christmas as concern over the spread of Omicron increase.

Currently around 235,000 children are absent from school due to Covid, up 13% in the past fortnight, with an average of 175,000 believed to be off every day this term.

Head of the Oasis Academy chain, Steve Chalke, told The Sun: ‘We are quite prepared for online learning. If we get to January 2 and the Prime Minister says all schools need to be shut, we are prepared.

‘January is the great unknown. But Omicron is sweeping London now, and its going to sweep the country.’

It comes as Conservative MP Robert Halfon said the UK is ‘moving sadly towards de facto school closures’. 

Mr Halfon called on the Government to create an ‘army of volunteers’ to help teachers cope with the crisis.

The Harlow MP said: ‘The four horsemen of the education apocalypse have been galloping towards our young people in the form of a widening attainment gap, an epidemic of mental health problems, a rise in safeguarding hazards and a loss of life chances.

He added: ‘There’s a nationwide campaign for an army of NHS volunteers but not for education. Why is a similar army of retired teachers or Ofsted inspectors not being recruited to support schools struggling to cope with staffing requirements?

‘Can we not have the same vision, the same passion, the same resource provision for the education service as we do for the National Health Service?’

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