The biggest difference between this lockdown and the one which preceded it in November is the status of schools and a move to remote learning has been met with mixed reactions from students nationwide but with the external ‘mini-exams’ on the basis of which qualifications will be assessed looming, an essential question is: when and how can children return?

The research and development pertaining to vaccines suggests that a vaccination programme for teachers and possibly certain students is the clearest route back to education as we used to know it. Current controversy with the Labour party’s proposal of a teacher vaccination programme locking horns with the Conservative’s prioritisation of the vulnerable means that a return to school could be as late as Easter. 

Furthermore, the bubble system that schools administered for the winter term was largely ineffective with 31% of cases being found in schools coming from intra-school transmission according to The Lancet. Although education ought to be prioritised in these times, the facts relating to increased transmission within schools especially of the new variant seems to limit the opportunities of a return to face-to-face learning. 

The offering of a staggered return with only the exam years returning seems the plausible proposal to limit the damage in person learning can cause. Notwithstanding, any manner of return seems weeks if not months away with different stakeholders having contrasting aims to how and when this could happen as safely as possible but also maximise the educational value of any knowledge given to students.