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LONDON (Reuters) – The British government pledged a 700 million-pound ($988 million) package of support to help children in England catch up on learning lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shut schools to most students.

English primary and secondary schools were closed to the majority of pupils from Jan 5 as part of lockdown measures.

They will reopen on March 8 under plans announced on Monday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The education ministry said on Wednesday it would introduce a ‘Recovery Premium’ targeting disadvantaged students, alongside other measures, amid concerns that those from poorer backgrounds have been falling behind.

“Our package of measures will deliver vital support to the children and young people who need it most, making sure everyone has the same opportunity to fulfil their potential no matter their background,” said Education Minister Gavin Williamson.

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