SCHOOLCHILDREN across the district will return to the classroom as planned - should covid restrictions remain the same.

The majority of schools across Tynedale closed for Christmas break on December 17 and bosses say pupils will be back in January, as normal, providing further coronavirus prevention measures are not implemented.

A rising number of cases, however, saw changes to many end of term activities across Northumberland and in some cases, cancelled.

In March last year, schools across the country all but closed their doors - with the exception of provision for key workers' children and those considered vulnerable - and learning was took online.

Before the Christmas holidays, Newcastle schools were “struggling” under the weight of staff absences caused by high case numbers and a council education boss for the city warned this pressure on teachers was likely to continue.

Northumberland County Council, however, has said it is confident no changes to current arrangements will need to be made.

A spokesperson for the authority said: "Schools already have in place risk assessments and measures to ensure they can follow the latest guidance. They will continue to be supported by the local public health team, health and safety and education team in line with government advice in the new year."

Queen Elizabeth High School (QEHS), Hexham, said although it had contingency plans in place should guidelines change, it hoped to see pupils again for the start of the new year.

"As things stand, we’re expecting all pupils and students back on Tuesday, January 4, other than any who may have tested positive, for whom our established remote learning arrangements will be in place", said Graeme Atkins, executive headteacher of the Hadrian Learning Trust. "All our young people and staff are being asked to undertake an LFD test prior to return, with further testing taking place in school on the 4th itself.

"We have contingency plans ready should circumstances change over the holiday period and we will be monitoring the situation closely as we approach the start of the new term, communicating with parents and carers as required."