When will schools close in the UK? What the government has said – and why some schools have been closing already
The Government is advising schools to stay open but Boris Johnson said this position is under ‘continuous review’
Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 12:26 pm
Schools across Europe are being closed to protect children and help prevent any further spread of the coronavirus.
According to UNESCO, 56 countries have closed schools nationwide, impacting nearly 517 million young people.
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For now, the UK Government is advising schools to stay open, but Boris Johnson said this position is under “continuous review”.
So will UK schools close over coronavirus? And what is the latest government advice?
Here’s what you need to know.
When are UK schools closing?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at a news conference addressing the Government’s response to the escalating coronavirus outbreak (Photo: Matt Dunham/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
At the moment, schools have been instructed to stay open, but at the Government’s latest Covid-19 press briefing the Prime Minister said he was keeping the policy under “continuous review”.
The Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has said closing schools as a measure to suppress the coronavirus pandemic “remains on the table”.
According to Sir Patrick, closing schools would cause widespread disruption, and the decision needs to be made at “the right time”.
School closures would mean parents taking time off work to look after their children, while there are concerns that grandparents – one the most vulnerable groups – would have to step in and help with childcare.
The Government argues that if children are not in school, they could end up in unsupervised settings where they are actually at greater risk of picking up the virus or spreading it further.
Why have some schools already closed?
Many European countries have closed schools as part of their efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus.(Photo by JEROEN JUMELET/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)
Despite the Government’s official advice, a small number of schools have announced closures because of staff shortages as more people are self-isolating.
Other schools have also closed after confirmed infections amongst the teaching staff.
What could happen to exams?
We don’t know yet, but the current advice is that children should prepare for exams as usual.
In an interview with LBC, former chief examiner Tony Breslin suggested that exams could be postponed, though nothing has been decieded.
“The first thing we need is to create certainty for parents, children and teachers,” he said, adding that for the exam season “we’re talking about postponement rather than cancellation”.
What if someone at my child’s school is ill?
Schools have been advised to send any pupils who have a continuous cough or high temperature home as a way help mitigate the impacts of coronavirus.
The official guidance is that your children should also stay at home if they are unwell, to avoid spreading the infection to others.
But if your children are feeling well they can continue going to school as normal.