The government has announced that all English schools will close this Friday.
Following this week’s announcement that Brits should avoid all unnecessary contact with others, the Government has now announced that all English schools with close this Friday, following rapidly growing confirmed cases across the country – including a confirmed case in a Rochdale primary school just yesterday.
As of March 18, 2,626 people in the UK have tested positive for COVID-19 and 56,221 people have been tested.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson spoke live at a press conference this afternoon, saying:
“I know the situation has become increasingly challenging. I’ve said before that if the science and the advice changed, such that keeping schools open would no longer be in the best interest of children and teachers, that we would act – we are now at that stage.
Continuing: “The public health benefits of schools remaining open as normal are shifting. It is also clear that schools are increasingly finding it more difficult to continue as normal as illness and self-isolation impacts on staffing levels and pupil attendance.
“The scientific advice shows that these settings are safe for this small number of children to continue attending. But asking others to stay away will just go towards helping us slow the spread of this virus. Examples of these key workers include NHS staff, police and delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work. Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with educational health and care plans.”
It was also confirmed that exams will not be taking place in May and June, however, the Government will make sure children gets the qualifications they need despite of this. Boris Johnson also confirmed that free school meals would be honoured, with a voucher scheme being introduced to make up for the meals.
There are currently 8,819,765 school children in the UK, and the closure does not include nurseries or colleges, however, the Prime Minister has asked these institutions to follow suit, reassuring them that the Government would reimburse any costs that incur as a result of closing.
A number of businesses have been impacted since the Prime Minister advised the public to avoid public spaces such as pubs, bars, theatres and restaurants, with a growing number of establishments in Manchester closing as a result.
This article will be updated live as news comes in.