Many parents have expressed outrage today at Boris Johnson's decision to keep millions of school children at home, with the government's rules branded as "confusing".
In some cases, schools on neighbouring streets were either told to close or open from Monday, while many councils have campaigned for all classrooms to be shut to control the spread of the mutated coronavirus.
Primary schools in parts of the southeast of England will not reopen on January 4 as ministers had promised, with children in much of London, Essex, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex and Kent affected.
Around two-thirds of schools in the capital will shut for an extra two weeks from Monday, January 4, meaning many households will have one child forced to stay at home while another still goes into school.
With most secondary schools shut until at least January 18, many students face weeks or even months of virtual classes, which schools inspector Ofsted has blasted for setting many working-class children back "years".
Reacting to yesterday's announcement by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, MailOnline quotes one parent as saying the situation is "totally ridiculous".
They went on: "The school at one end of the street I live in will be closed while the school at the other end is open."
Another parent said their area had been "split in two" with "schools on one side of the road closed, the other side open".
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Others have been left baffled by the new rulings, with one person saying on Twitter: "Still no idea what I am meant to be doing on Monday."
Only vulnerable children and the children of key workers will be able to return to school, while the rest will have online lessons.
Speaking in yesterday's press briefing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson even appeared to cast doubt over this return date of January 18 for secondary schools, saying: "I want to stress that depending on the spread of the disease it may be necessary to take further action in their cases as well in the worst affected areas."
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His comments came after all of England except the Isles of Scilly was plunged into the toughest Tier 3 and 4 restrictions.
The small islands off the coast of Cornwall, home to just over 2,000 people, are now the only place in England where pubs can stay open, as millions of people's New Year's Eve plans were dashed at the last minute.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Gavin Williamson said: "We will be opening the majority of primary schools as planned on Monday, January 4.
"We know how vitally important it is for younger children to be in school for their education, wellbeing and wider development.
"In a small number of areas where the infection rates are highest we will implement our existing contingency framework such as only vulnerable children and children of critical workers will attend face-to-face.
"We will publish this list of areas today on the gov.uk website."
Full list of where primary schools must shut
Barking and Dagenham
Hammersmith and Fulham
Kensington and Chelsea
Southend on Sea
Tonbridge and Malling
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