All schools across UK will close from Friday
PUBLISHED: 17:57 18 March 2020 | UPDATED: 20:29 18 March 2020
Every school in the UK will close indefinitely from Friday, March 20 to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson made the announcement in the House of Commons at 5pm.
Exams will not take place as planned in May and June.
Children of key emergency workers like paramedics and police officers will still be able to send their children to school and a small number of teachers will remain at the schools to supervise them during the day.
Those with educational care plans or those with a social worker will also be able to access the schools.
No date has been announced for the schools to reopen. Schools will be expected to remain open to these children during Easter holidays as well.
There has already been disruption to some schools in the region, with more than 15 in Suffolk either closed or partially closed today.
It was announced by the government today that 676 more people have been found positive for the virus, with 5,779 more tests completed.
This takes the total number of people who have had the disease up to 2,626 in the UK.
In the East of England, 128 people have tested positive for the virus, with the number of cases confirmed in Suffolk rising from three to 10 yesterday.
These figures are only those tested by the NHS and there are thought to be many others not yet confirmed.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement that, for public health reasons, schools will now close. It is better for this to take place in an ordered way than the chaotic pattern of closures that was developing.
“We also welcome the clarity that SATs, GCSE, AS- and A-Level exams are to be cancelled. This offers some degree of reassurance to teachers, their students and parents.
“We note that, at this time of emergency, the Government has decided that teacher assessment is indeed a good method of giving reliable information about young people’s progress and achievements. We will return to that when this crisis is over.
“Now, more than anything else the Government needs to concentrate on ensuring that children in food poverty are fed properly - these children are not just those on free school meals.”
What have Suffolk County Council said about the closures?
A spokesman said: “Schools, academy trusts, nurseries and local authorities are currently awaiting detailed guidance from Government on this closure.
“We do however know many headteachers and nursery managers are already proactively texting and emailing parents to update them on their existing plans.
“Local authority officers have tonight been in communication with headteachers and academy CEOs.
“This will most certainly continue on Thursday and Friday, ahead of the closure starting next week.
“We absolutely recognise that this is going to be difficult for many working parents, which is why Suffolk County Council is supporting schools and looking at a range of contingency plans to reduce the impact of these changes as much as possible.
“The most important thing for parents to do is to work calmly with their schools and nurseries to make sure their children’s education continues and their wellbeing and safety is ensured.”