The UK government have announced that ALL schools and nurseries in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are to be closed from Friday 20th March until further notice due to the current Covid-19 outbreak, in an effort to control the spread of the Coronavirus.
Who Can Still Send Their Kids To School During The Closures?
The schools may well be closed for the forseeable future, but in order to allow key front line workers to keep the country running smoothly and safely, the government have announced the eight categories of workers that may continue to send their kids to school.
This category covers doctors, midwives, nurses, paramedics, health care assistants, plus any support or specialists in the care sector. Anyone involved with the production or dispersion of medicine and vital equipment is also eligible.
Those within education and childcare
Nursery workers, teachers, social workers, teaching assistants and similar will be required to provide services, and so their children can attend the special schools set up in order to keep things running.
Those working in public safety and national security
All police, Ministry of Defence staff (civillians), armed forces personnel, fire and rescue, border security and prison/probation staff are eligible to have their children schooled during this time.
Those that are directly involved in vital supplies
This covers anyone that produces food, or is involved in the processing, sale, delivery, or distribution.
Key public services
People involved in the justice system, funerals and management of the deceased, journalists, public broadcasters and religious staff are included.
Those working for the local and national government
If you work for the government, local or national, and are vital to the smooth running of essential services such as the process and payment of the benefits, then you're eligible to continue to send your children to school.
Those that work in utilities, communications and financial services
If you're involved in electricity, gas, water, oil or sewerage works, then these services must keep running during the COVID-19 response, so you may also continue to send your children to school.
In addition to those working with these sectors, those parents of vulnerable children will also be allowed to continue sending their children to school.
That's inclusive of those with either education, health and care plans or those that have social work involvement.
More information is to follow as to how many schools will be open etc, and we will update this post in due course with more detail.
Note: You may also have to apply for your child to attend one of the special schools that will remain open. It's worth checking on your local Council page for more details of this.
School Closures In England Due To Coronavirus
5pm 18th March 2020: The Education Secretary has just made an announcement that all schools in England will be closing on Friday 20th March except for the children of key workers and the most vulnerable.
Examples of key workers include nhs staff, police, and delivery drivers who need to go to work . The most vulnerable include children with a social worker, those with educational, health and care plans.
The government are expecting early years providers, 6th forms and further education colleges to also close, and they are asking independent schools and boarding schools to do the same.
A national voucher scheme will be put in place as soon as possible for every child eligible for free school meals.
Exams will not take place in May and June, but the government will "make sure that children get the qualifications they need".
School closures had not been implemented earlier due to concerns over the impact on nhs workers, children requiring special assistance, the risk to grandparents taking over childcare responsibilities, and those on free school meals.
School Closures In Scotland Due To Coronavirus
Nicola Sturgeon has said schools in Scotland will close on Friday 20th March and "will not reopen after the Easter break" and they "cannot promise that they will reopen before the summer holidays."
Nicola Sturgeon announced the move in a press conference and said "My view is that it is now inevitable that we will close schools and nurseries. My planning assumption is that schools will close to pupils at the end of this week. I wanted today to give parents notice of that."
The first minister said the decision was driven by two key factors. "First is the science. I expect that is likely to tell us to close schools. Secondly, schools are reaching the point where they have lost too many staff to continue."
Education Secretary John Swinney confirmed that all SQA examinations have been cancelled for summer 2020.
School Closures In Wales Due To Coronavirus
Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams said the Welsh government was looking into how children on free school meals and with additional learning needs can be supported, and said parents should speak with their childcare providers for care over the extended break.
She said: “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 Cobra 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.”
She also said the Welsh government was still working to clarify what the school closures would mean for pupils with forthcoming examinations.
School Closures In Northern Ireland Due To Coronavirus
5pm 18th March: The Northern Ireland government has just announced that all schools are to close with immediate effect, and will close to staff from Friday 20th March.