British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the government has a moral duty to ensure children return to school next month.
Most pupils have been out of the classroom since the U.K. went into lockdown in March, though some primary-age children have returned.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Johnson said “keeping our schools closed a moment longer than absolutely necessary is socially intolerable, economically unsustainable and morally indefensible.”
Britain’s official death toll from the coronavirus is more than 46,500, the highest in Europe.
Scientists say the U.K. may have reached the limit of how much it can relax lockdown restrictions without causing a new surge in coronavirus infections. They say some things may have to close — even the country’s beloved pubs — so that schools can reopen fully.
Most U.K. schools start the new term in early September, but those in Scotland begin to reopen this week.