Welcome to the Tes coronavirus liveblog. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is causing uncertainties for everyone.
Schools are facing unprecedented disruption, with classrooms currently closed to all but the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils.
Here, we aim to help teachers in the UK and in international schools by gathering together all the relevant stories in one place and keeping you updated with the latest news and announcements as and when they happen.
And, as ever, we also want to hear from you. What is different in your school, in your working life, because of the virus? If you have stories you want to share or information you think should be circulated, then contact us at: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org and Mary-Louise.Clews@tes.com.
Teachers describe ‘draining’ realities of online learning
Teachers have described delivering lessons online as “utterly draining”, with one teacher describing the difficulties of remote learning as like "teaching through a letterbox".
With pupils on mute or unable to access digital devices, teachers are spending several hours per day delivering a monologue, with so much screen time that some have said they have felt dizzy or faint by the end of the day.
Others have raised concerns over how they can check student understanding properly, noting that the “buzz” of the classroom is high-energy and allows them to help pupils more easily one-to-one.
"Perhaps it's my anxiety. Perhaps it's my perfectionism. ..But I have never been as exhausted as the past two weeks,” said chemistry teacher Natalie Eley.
Read more here.
Teachers’ workload concerning says Ofqual
Ofqual’s chief regulator has raised concerns over teacher workload in an exclusive interview with Tes.
Simon Lebus listed the problem as one of five key issues raised by respondents to its consultation on the grading process proposed to replace cancelled exams.
Teacher workload is an issue because I think there are concerns – and I share those concerns – about the fact that teachers are going to have to take on the heavier responsibility of managing this additional assessment on top of all the extra work they’re having to do to make up for lost learning time,” he said.
Mr Lebus said respondents had also raised concerns about external tasks set for students by exam boards, arrangements for private candidates, the appeals process and fairness.
Read more here.
Malware found on DfE laptops 'contacts Russian servers'
The DfE's free laptops scheme has had its fair share of problems – with heads saying only two days ago that they are still "not convinced" the government "fully understands" the demand for devices and connectivity.
But the latest issue with the scheme does not relate to the supply of laptops – rather, a sinister problem with the devices themselves.
According to an online forum, schools have discovered malware on laptops distributed by the government, which is said to appear to be contacting Russian servers.Read the full story here.
Heads breathe sigh of relief at latest DfE U-turn
It is "frustrating" that the government didn't take the "obvious and most straightforward option", but the latest U-turn from the DfE has at least brought about "positive" change, according to heads.
Tes revealed this afternoon that government had made a partial U-turn on its potentially "catastrophic" decision to fund nursery classes based on attendance levels during the third national lockdown.
Heads were relieved to learn that, while the government will continue to base funding on the spring census, it now intends to provide "top up" cash for those nurseries which currently have "artificially low numbers" of children attending.Read the full story here.
Williamson says 'other people' should grade him on his schools system leadership
Education secretary Gavin Williamson faced some tough questions on his record during the pandemic this morning, including what “grade” he would give himself for leadership of the schools system.
The question was put to him on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme by host Nick Robinson who said: “This is about leadership and I’m afraid you will know that many people have decided that you are not showing enough of that.
Read more here.
To test or not to test?
The Department for Education has paused a major part of its programme for Covid testing in schools because health experts have warned of risks of continuing.
However the government has said it remains committed to Covid testing taking place in schools.
So what is still happening and what has stopped? Here's everything you need to know.
Williamson pledges to give teachers two weeks notice over school reopenings
Gavin Williamson has said he hopes that schools can reopen before Easter and pledged to give teachers a "clear two weeks" notice of any such decision.
The education secretary was asked this morning whether there was any realistic prospect of schools reopening before Easter.
Read more here.
Williamson won’t talk about resigning
Education secretary Gavin Williamson refused to answer questions about resigning when he appeared on breakfast TV this morning where he was told “You’ve been a catastrophe - own it.”
Appearing on Good Morning Britain, host Piers Morgan put to him his “record” over the last ten months including the “exam fiasco”, the “school reopening catastrophe” at the start of this term, the fact that some pupils were still without internet access, and being “repeatedly shamed over free school meals by a footballer".
At the end of the 14-minute interview, Mr Morgan asked him “What would it take for you to resign?” But the education secretary avoided the question. Read the story and watch the clip here
Support for 'immense strain' of pandemic
Children’s charity Barnardo’s today launched a new website that will help support teacher wellbeing during the Covid pandemic.
The website, called Barnardo’s Education Community (BEC), will help teachers deal with “the immense strain they are under in managing their own experiences”.
Read more here.
'Yet another u-turn'
Gavin Williamson braved the media this morning because he wanted to talk about a new initiative on post 16 education, about which he is reportedly personally passionate. However, if he thought after the recent school reopening, exams and serial testing chaos and u-turns he would be able to avoid answering serious questions heads have said he needs to answer, then perhaps he isn't clear on how 'deeply frustrated' heads, teachers and school staff are feeling.
Elsewhere yesterday, we heard that schools minister Nick Gibb believes that teachers skills will be enhanced by their use of technology to deliver remote learning during the current lockdown, and that Ofsted could ask to join live lessons this term as part of its monitoring of schools rated as inadequate or requiring improvement.
You can catch-up with all of yesterday's news here.