After two councils declared their intention to send students home early, the government has ordered schools in London to remain open.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has given a “temporary continuity direction” to Greenwich Council after announcing it will close local schools early for Christmas as London joins Tier 3.
If the council refuses the letter from Mr. Williamson, it will be enforced by an order from the High Court.
The Council of Islington, which made a similar request on Monday, has reportedly not yet received a response from the Education Department.
“It is simply not in children’s best interests for schools in Greenwich, Islington or elsewhere to close their doors,” Mr. Williamson said.
“I have always been adamant that using legal powers is a last resort but continuity of education is a national priority.
“That’s why I won’t hesitate to do whatever is right for college students and have provided a direction to Greenwich Council setting out that they must withdraw the letter issued to headteachers on Sunday.”
Danny Thorpe, Greenwich council chief, said on Sunday that Public Health England had told the authority to shut down all schools as cases of Covid-19 “escalating extremely quickly” in the capital.
On Monday, Islington Council followed suit, urging local schools to switch from this Wednesday to online learning.
As infections increase in the area, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has already called for all schools to close.
In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he said: “urgent consideration must…be given to closing secondary schools, sixth form and FE colleges a few days early and keeping them closed for longer after Christmas”