Week Ahead: Schools return, Harry and Meghan on Oprah and International Women's Day

Pupils in England return to school, the Sussexes speak to Oprah and celebrations take place for International Women’s Day. John Blow looks at the week ahead.

Harry and Meghan after their wedding.

Back to School

Pupils in all year groups are due to return to England’s schools tomorrow in the first step towards a the country’s return to life without coronavirus restrictions.

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Outdoor after-school sports and activities will also be allowed to restart following the Government’s release of a ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown.

Pupils return to school on Monday.

Meanwhile, socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will also be permitted with the rules relaxed to allow people to sit down for a drink or picnic.

Some have criticised the decision by ministers to return all children to school instead of taking a phased approach.

One expert last week schools can reopen “safely”, however, with the package of measures set out to mitigate risks from Covid-19.

Calum Semple, professor of outbreak medicine and child health at the University of Liverpool, said that increased ventilation, tests and mask wearing will all contribute to safe reopening of school.

Geoff Barton, from the Association of School and College Leaders said that increased testing for secondary and higher education pupils would mean that this week will be more “transitional”, with the week commencing March 15 looking “as normal as it might do”. The Government has laid out plans for secondary school and college students to be tested twice a week.

Royal Rumblings

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey will air in the UK tomorrow after being shown on the television over the Atlantic today.

Oprah With Meghan and Harry broadcasts at 9pm this evening on ITV, the broadcaster said last week, following the couple’s departure to live in America.

Meghan has accused the royal family of “perpetuating falsehoods” about her and Harry in footage released last week.

She defended her decision to speak to the chat show veteran suggesting she could not “stay silent” while “The Firm” was working against the couple.

The latest salvo in the relationship between the Sussexes and the monarchy came hours after Buckingham Palace announced it is to investigate allegations of bullying made against the duchess by former royal staff. The couple’s interview with the US television host is expected to lift the lid on their short period working for the Firm - as the royal family is sometimes known - before they stepped down last March.

A palace source said: “We’re not getting involved in the drama around the interview.”

It is not clear what “falsehoods” Meghan is referring to but court documents from her recent legal action against Associated Newspapers, over articles which featured parts of her letter to her estranged father, shed light on her views about the monarchy.

The legal papers claimed the duchess was left “unprotected by the Institution” of the monarchy when attacked by the media and “prohibited from defending herself”.

Women of the world

International Women’s Day will also be celebrated around the globe tomorrow.

The annual wave of campaigning aims to celebrate the achievements of women, build awareness about equality, highlight the cause of gender parity and fundraise for female-focused charities.

This year’s theme is “Choose to Challenge”, with organisers and participants hoping to inspire calls to action. Online events in the region taking place include one by the Institute of Directors’ Yorkshire and North East branch.