When is February half term 2021? Start and end dates - and when schools in England could go back after lockdown

Schools closed to many children to limit the spread of Covid-19 amid a second wave of the deadly virus

It appears that there are still weeks of home schooling ahead for England’s teachers, parents and pupils.

Calls for clarity over when England’s schools will reopen to all children amid a third national lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic have been addressed by prime minister Boris Johnson.

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Schools have been partially open for children of key workers and vulnerable children but all others are being asked to continue their education at home through virtual lessons, since the 4 January.

Many children will return to remote learning following the national lockdown restrictions on school attendance. (Pic: PA)

It is hoped the rollout of the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines will protect the most vulnerable to coronavirus by March, with children possibly back in school before spring.

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Why have schools closed?

Mr Johnson said the NHS was at risk of being overwhelmed within 21 days if further restrictions were not introduced.

“I completely understand the inconvenience and distress this late change will cause millions of parents and pupils up and down the country,” he said.

“Parents whose children were in school today may reasonably ask why we did not take this decision sooner.

“The answer is simply that we have been doing everything in our power to keep schools open, because we know how important each day in education is to children’s life chances.

“And I want to stress that the problem is not that schools are unsafe for children – children are still very unlikely to be severely affected by even the new variant of Covid.

“The problem is that schools may nonetheless act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.”

Mr Johnson added that free school meals will still be provided to pupils entitled to them and more devices were to be distributed to support remote education.

When will schools fully reopen?

Mr Johnson initially offered some hope that the closure of schools would last for little over a month, depending on the country's response to rising Covid-19 hospital admissions.

The speed at which the vaccines can be administered will play a key part in the government's thinking behind reopening schools and easing restrictions, the PM revealed.

Mr Johnson said: "Then I hope we can steadily move out of lockdown, reopening schools after the February half-term and starting, cautiously, to move regions down the tiers."

Since then Mr Johnson has outlined 8 March as the earliest possible date for schools to reopen with the plan for all schools and year groups to return at the same time in England.

It would mark the first stage of lifting the lockdown, Mr Johnson said.

When is February half term?

Half term in England usually lasts one week in the middle of February but can vary slightly across the country.

The half term break for most schools in the 2020/21 academic year will run from Monday 15 February to Friday 19 February.

This means most students are expected to return to the classrooms on Monday 22 February.

Check the exact dates in your area through the government website.

What does this mean for exams?

Mr Johnson said it would not be "possible or fair" for exams to go ahead as normal following the move to remote working.

The government is working with exam regulator Ofqual to find alternative arrangements.