Throughout the latest lockdown since the start of the new year, schools have remained open to children of key workers and the most vulnerable. But all other youngsters have been at home, causing a headache for working parents, and fears about the effect on their learning. Pupils aged five to 11 go back to the classroom on Monday, with a staggered return over the coming week for secondary school students aged 11 to 18.
The government has been able to plan to ease its Covid-19 restriction measures as around 23 million people in UK have received at least a first vaccination jab, helping to bring down case numbers and ease pressure on hospitals.
PM Boris Johnson has outlined plans to lift stay-at-home curbs in England, hoping a cautious approach will not spark a renewed surge in cases that would force another lockdown.
Britain has suffered more than 123,000 Covid deaths and is banking on its mass vaccination drive to lift all restrictions possibly as early as June. Under further plans for reopening, the government has said it will ease limits on social interaction outside on March 29, with the reopening of non-essential retail from April 12.