England delays return of schools as COVID-19 cases surge

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A man walks next to a Student Lettings sign, ahead of students' return to universities in coming weeks, in Durham

LONDON (Reuters) - Secondary school children in England will return to the classroom later than planned to enable the roll out of mass COVID-19 testing, Education Minister Gavin Williamson said on Wednesday.

Pupils in exam years will return from Jan 11 and all secondary and college students will return full time on Jan 18.

"This will break those chains of transmission that are making infection rates shoot up, this in turn will make it safer for more children to physically return to school," he told lawmakers.

Some primary school children in the worst hit areas will also not return as planned after Christmas, he said.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle and Kate Holton; editing by William James)