School kids will be back in the classrooms in January with teachers doing coronavirus tests, a cabinet member said.
It comes following fears that schools might be closed until February to stem the spread of a mutant strain of coronavirus.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick has now confirmed plans to have classes start up again after Christmas.
He said kids will be taught in person "in the first few weeks of January", The Metro reported.
Asked on the BBC if schools would reopen, the senior minister replied: "Yes they will do. We have made it our longstanding priority to reopen schools, I think that is the right thing to do.
"I appreciate it is going to be a big challenge and teachers and headteachers are tired at the end of a very difficult year, so this will be some further work for them to do over the Christmas period.
"But if we can get this right and prepare for it it will enable kids to go back to school, albeit in a staggered way, in the first few weeks of January."
Plans are being put in place for teachers to be able to carry out coronavirus tests on pupils, according to reports.
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Children with symptoms would then be sent home, while those returning a negative result could remain in class.
But sources have told MailOnline that it was "too early" to confirm whether kids would be back in front of whiteboards by January 11.
The noises from Number 10 have been inconsistent as some fear there is yet to be a guarantee of a January reopening.
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Schools minister Nick Gibbs said last week that volunteers may be recruited to carry out swabs.
He told Times Radio it was a "national priority" to keep schools open.
In January, Mr Gibb said that secondary school pupils will be learning from home so schools can prepare for children to be tested.
He denied that teachers would be carrying out tests, adding: "Teachers are fully occupied."
It follows emerging evidence that the mutated strain of coronavirus may be more prevalent in spreading among children.
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