Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told Parliament this afternoon that the majority of primary schools will open on Monday but secondary schools and colleges will not return until January 18.
In a small number of areas, where infection rate is highest, only children of critical workers and vulnerable will be taught face-to-face.
He said it is a last resort and not all Tier 4 areas will be affected.
The Government will work on an ambitious testing programme, he added.
A staggered return for secondary and college pupils has already been announced but the Government is going to allow more time so testing can be rolled out fully, he said, to break chains of transmission.
All pupils in exam years are to return from January 11 and will open fully from January 18.
Schools will only be open to vulnerable youngsters and children of critical workers from January 4.
Testing will begin in earnest, with those in exam groups “at the head of the queue”.
Exam year groups will have online lessons.
To support online working, more than 100,000 devices will be delivered to schools.