London CNN  — 

Even by the standards of a world leader navigating a pandemic, Boris Johnson has had a tumultuous 2020. The UK’s Prime Minister returns to work on Monday, having spent a week on vacation with his fiancée and baby in Scotland. In that time he’ll have had the chance to reflect on his extraordinary year to date, in which he took his country out of the European Union, got divorced, got engaged, got Covid-19 so badly he was taken to intensive care, had a baby and endured months of criticism over his handling of coronavirus.

The main charge is that Johnson’s government took too long to take the virus seriously, meaning it had an inadequate testing regime, locked down too late and obsessively tried to handle the crisis from London. The result is that the UK has suffered the most deaths in Europe and the fifth most in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.

During the crisis, Johnson’s government has suffered multiple embarrassing scandals – from his chief adviser being accused of breaking lockdown rules to a messy U-turn after nationwide confusion over schoolchildren’s exam results led to protests in London.

Unfortunately for Johnson, life is unlikely to be much easier this fall. After an eventful summer, UK lawmakers return to parliament on September 1, giving Johnson’s opponents in the Labour Party – newly invigorated under the leadership of Keir Starmer – a forum to hold him to account as numerous crises run into each other between now and the end of the year.

September is the month that large swaths of the country will attempt to return to some degree of normality. Students will go back to schools and universities, meaning parents who had been forced to stay at home to provide childcare can go back to work.

Having failed to get children back to school earlier in the summer, it will be vital for Johnson to oversee a successful start to the new school year in England next week. “I have previously spoken about the moral duty to reopen schools to all pupils safely, and I would like to thank the school staff who have spent the summer months making classrooms Covid-secure in preparation for a full return in September,” Johnson said in a statement released Sunday night.

It is “vitally important” for all children to return to school after months of disruption, Johnson said.

The statement was widely interpreted in the British media as an attempt to demonstr