Covid-19: Summer school for some pupils in England, and Ireland extends restrictions

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Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Wednesday morning. We'll have another update for you this evening.

1. Summer school for some pupils in England

Secondary schools in England will be asked to deliver face-to-face summer schools to help some pupils catch up with lessons lost to Covid. It will be up to schools to decide which pupils get the lessons - they won't be for everyone, and the summer holidays won't be shorter. But the government is providing hundreds of millions of pounds in funding to make sure it happens. Alongside the face-to-face lessons for some secondary pupils, there is also funding for primary and secondary schools to boost summer clubs and activities. The prime minister said the money would ensure "no child is left behind". Schools in England closed to most pupils in March 2020. They reopened to some year groups in the summer term, and to all pupils in September. But they closed again in January, and are not due to reopen until 8 March. Watch our explainer below on the Covid risk to pupils.

Media caption,

Can children catch and spread coronavirus?

2. Republic of Ireland restrictions extended until 5 April

The Republic of Ireland will keep its highest level of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions until at least 5 April. The widely expected decision to maintain Level Five was taken at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, but primary schools will reopen on Monday for younger pupils. The Irish vaccination programme is several weeks behind the UK's and has been hampered by supply issues, and the relatively late authorisation of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the European Medicines Agency.

Image source, PA Media

3. Showaddywaddy singer's 'brutal' Covid experience

The former lead singer of Showaddywaddy has advised people to get a vaccination after his "brutal" experience with Covid-19. Dave Bartram said he tested positive on 20 January, and "for a month it has been debilitating". He said: "It bears no relation to flu whatsoever. It is the most brutal virus I have ever experienced."

Image caption,
Dave Bartram said he felt "blessed" he and his wife had recovered

4. 'I missed 10 months of my husband's life when he needed me the most'

In May 2019, Lynn Parker's husband of 42 years, Alastair, moved into a care home after he was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis. She visited him almost every day until March 2020, when the pandemic forced her to stop. He died just before Christmas in a Caerphilly nursing home - she had last held his hand 10 months earlier. Mrs Parker thinks at least one family member should be able to make care home visits in Wales. Watch her story here.

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Lynn Parker was last able to hold her husband's hand 10 months before he died

5. How one school in England is preparing to return

Our education editor Branwen Jeffreys has visited a school in Shropshire to see how pupils and teachers are preparing for the reopening on 8 March. Measures will include voluntary Covid testing, and mask-wearing inside classrooms. "There's not really much you can do," says one pupil who has already been wearing masks in class. "You just have to try and get used to it."

And don't forget...

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page. This page looks at the school reopening plan across the UK.

Image source, BBC

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