Schools in the UK will close from Monday, except for children of key workers and vulnerable children.
After schools shut their gates on Friday afternoon, they will remain closed until further notice except for children of key workers and vulnerable children, as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus.
Examples of these workers include NHS staff, police and supermarket delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work to support the country’s fight to tackle coronavirus. Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans – a legal document that describes a child’s special educational needs and the support they require.
Children who do not fall into these groups should remain at home with appropriate care.
Where schools are unable to look after these children, local authorities will work with the Department for Education’s regional teams to ensure an alternative option is available in the same area.
Nurseries, private schools and sixth forms should also follow this guidance. We will provide financial support for these settings as required.
In Scotland, schools are also set to close and the Scottish Government is working closely with local authorities to mitigate the impact on three groups as a priority:
- Vulnerable pupils and those receiving free school meals.
- Pupils undertaking coursework and preparing for exams.
- Key workers including doctors, nurses and emergency service workers who have children.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
“Fighting Coronavirus and protecting the vulnerable and our NHS are the Government’s top priorities right now. That’s why we are asking schools, nurseries and colleges to close – except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.
“We are facing increasingly extraordinary circumstances, but by asking schools to support our key workers and vulnerable children I am confident we will help beat this virus.
“I am deeply grateful for the civic spirit and dedication of everyone working in education, and I will continue to provide my full support throughout this crisis.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“This has been one of the hardest decisions we have faced so far as we tackle the coronavirus. SAGE – our expert scientific advisers – are examining new advice that is very likely to tell us to close schools. We also know more and more schools are approaching a point where they have lost too many staff to continue as normal. At this stage I cannot promise schools and nurseries will reopen after the Easter break.
“There will require to be a lot of local flexibility and we are working closely with local authorities to put those arrangements in place.
“Teachers, school staff and those in the nursery sector will have a vital role in the weeks ahead and we will work with you to minimise the impact on all our young peoples’ education, and in particular the most vulnerable groups.”
Minister for Education in Wales, Kirsty Williams commented on school closures in Wales:
“From the outset, the decisions being taken have been focused on public health advice, and it is right that these science-based recommendations are front and centre of the decisions being made.
“The announcement I am making today will help ensure an orderly closure for schools so that they have the time to prepare. However, I am conscious that the SAGE Committee and COBR meet this afternoon, and I will, of course, be listening closely to see if advice changes and any further urgent decisions about school closures are needed.
“Today’s decision will help ensure an orderly closure, so schools have time to prepare ahead of the early break.
“My main message for everyone is to stay safe and stay well. We will work together and we will face this outbreak together.”