All UK schools are set to close their front gates from Friday afternoon until further notice in a bid to slow down the nationwide spread of COVID-19.
The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, confirmed the news just moments ago in the House of Commons, following days of nationwide uncertainty and worry amongst teachers, parents and students alike. The decision was then echoed moments later in Boris’s latest coronavirus news conference (now a daily occurrence as the nation continues to grapple with the spread of the illness).
Williamson told MPs:
“I want to provide parents, students and staff with the certainty they need.
“After schools shut their gates on Friday afternoon, they will remain closed until further notice.
“This will be for all children, except for those of key workers and children who are most vulnerable.
“The scientific advice shows that the settings are safe for this small number of children attending, but asking others to stay will just go towards helping us slow the spread of this virus.”
Examples of “key workers” include NHS staff, police and delivery drivers; essentially, the jobs that are keeping the nation fed and healthy in these trying times. They all deserve such respect and appreciation right now.
The education secretary added nurseries, Sixth Forms, further education colleges, independent schools and boarding schools were likely to follow the same measures.
According to reports, the decision has been made following a dramatic increase in staff sickness, as – like so many of us – many teachers have been forced to stay at home and look after relatives.
Earlier today, it was confirmed that all schools in Scotland and Wales would be closing due to coronavirus. This afternoon’s announcement means that all UK schools will be shutting their gates for the foreseeable future.
During his televised conference this afternoon, Mr Johnson said that COVID-19 is “an invisible enemy”, as it is not clear who is transmitting it. He was asked during a Q&A when schools were likely to reopen, to which the PM said that he wants to keep the timeframe of these nationwide closures to an “absolute minimum”, but at this stage the government is not in position to to confirm anything.
As a result of the decision, all GCSEs and A Levels have been cancelled until further notice.
Mr Williamson told the House of Commons:
“I can confirm that we will not go ahead with assessments or exams, and that we will not be publishing performance tables for this academic year. We will work with a sector and have to ensure children get the qualifications that they need.
“My department is working closely with local authorities, representatives of early years schools and head teachers, regional schools, commissioners and bodies such as Ofqual about how to deliver this change as effectively as possible.”
The general public is being advised to practice social distancing, to self-quarantine for 14 days if they develop a new cough for high temperature and to wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. CLICK HERE for further information from the UK government.
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Having worked in children's media and publishing for almost a decade, Ben is thoroughly excited to now be able to swear in stories and features. He is such a big fan of Disney and Horror films that he started an LGBTQ+ podcast called 'Once Upon A Scream'. His mum listens. You can contact Ben at [email protected] Twitter: @PulsfordBen / Instagram: @thebenmidlerFollow