Welcome to the Tes coronavirus liveblog. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is causing uncertainties for everyone.
Schools are facing unprecedented disruption with efforts to keep schools open and 'Covid-secure' and many teachers facing working with "bubbles" of pupils or delivering remote lessons.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com and Mary-Louise.Clews@tes.com.
Schools will have to provide remote learning in two days' time - but government warned it's 'impossible'
In just two days' time, schools will face a legal obligation to deliver remote education to any pupil who is off because of Covid-19.
But tonight the government will be warned that this is an impossible task for schools who cannot ensure pupils have access to the internet or a device to learn on.
Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh is leading a debate in Parliament into the government’s decision to create a legal obligation on schools to provide immediate access to remote education for pupils if they are absent due to Covid-19.
School face masks confusion as minister contradicts DfE
Confused by Covid-19 guidance? Schools minister Nick Gibb may not have helped matters today.
Speaking this morning to the Education Select Committee, Mr Gibb said that all schools were in tier 1 of the Covid restrictions for education – meaning that masks should be worn by all when moving around the premises.
However, according to his Department’s guidance, masks are mandatory only in secondaries in areas where the local Covid level is ‘high’ or ‘very high’ – and most areas of England have a ‘medium’ level of alert.
Confused? Read more here.
DfE will no longer record how many schools are partially closed by Covid
The Department for Education is no longer publishing data about the number of schools that are partially closed because of Covid-19.
The DfE has decided to stop asking schools whether or not they are fully open as part of wider changes to the way it collects information on attendance.
The figure had been included in weekly attendance data the DfE has published since the start of the academic year and has been declining week-on-week.
Almost half of secondary schools have pupils isolating after Covid contact
The scale of disruption caused by Covid-19 has been set out today with the news that almost half of all state secondary schools in England have pupils who are self isolating as a result of potential contact with someone who has coronavirus at their school.
It was revealed that more than one in five schools (21 per cent) and almost half of secondary schools ( 46 per cent) were in this position on 15 October, when the government last collected the data.
This is a new figure published for the first time by the department following changes to the way it is measuring the impact of the coronavirus in schools.
GCSE and A level grades in 2021 will reflect lost learning time
Schools minister Nick Gibb has suggested the grading for A levels and GCSEs in 2021 will reflect the lost learning time pupils have experienced from school closures.
Speaking at a Commons’ education select committee hearing, Mr Gibb said that one issue facing government was “the lost education all students will have suffered as a consequence of schools being closed”.
“And we'll have more to say about this in the next few weeks but that will be dealt with through issues such as grading, that Ofqual and the exam boards are working through,” he added.
DfE will not rule out using CAGs in 2021
With the new school year well underway, many questions about the 2021 exam series remain unanswered – and the schools minister was making no further commitments today.
Appearing before the House of Commons Education Committee, Nck Gibb declined to rule out the possibility that centre-assessed grades could be used as part of next year's exam series.
And asked if the government will be using mock exams to inform contingency plans, Mr Gibb did not give a clear answer, saying instead that "all these issues are subject to the discussions and the research and the work that's happening right now by Ofqual and the exam boards".
Read the full story here.
Should schools provide a tea trolley for teachers?
The gentle hiss of a steaming urn, the rattle of china, as a rosy-cheeked purveyor of hot beverages makes their way down the corridor. The very mention of a tea trolley recalls happier times, writes Sarah Ledger, an English teacher and director of learning for Year 11 at William Howard School in Brampton Cumbria.
It’s more than a wild fantasy. John Hardy, chair of Schools North East network has brought back the tea trolley, to raise staff morale in his Hartlepool primary school.
This makes sense due to new working practices, where movement around the school has changed the way teachers rehydrate, writes Ms Ledger.
Will teacher-parents be paid if forced to stay home?
With winter fast approaching and Covid cases rising, this is a question preying on teachers’ minds: what if my child has to self-isolate, and I need to stay home to look after them? Will I be paid?
Schools and teachers should come to an agreement as to whether home working is a possibility, according to unions. Either way, staff should be paid in full, they say.
But some schools are taking a harder line, a lawyer reports.
Read more here.
5 ways you can still run your school nativity this year
If the Mary costume is still in the cupboard and you’ve cancelled this year’s order of straw, think again: the school nativity can still happen even with the coronavirus restrictions.
We found five schools still planning on putting children on stage in ill-fitting costumes, and got them to tell us how they are managing it – it turns out you have multiple options.
At half-term, let’s recognise a job well done
For the vast majority of us, the half-term break has either arrived or is at least in sight, writes Michael Tidd. So, he says, we can take five minutes to sit down, breathe and recuperate – and then prepare for another busy few weeks ahead.
We all come to rely on our colleagues through good times and bad; it’s what makes our schools great places to work, says the headteacher of East Preston Junior School, in West Sussex.
So, he concludes, this month, as we each head off to our well-earned break, perhaps we can also thank one another, and recognise a job well done.
Keeping schools open
Yesterday we learned that Wales is to follow Northern Ireland with national, albeit partial, school closures.
Wales will go into lockdown from Friday until 9 November in a “fire break” that will see most secondary students out of school for an extra week.
Primary schools will reopen after half-term but only Years 7 and 8 will return to secondary school, with the rest not due to return until the end of the fire break.
In England there has been debate about school closures through a similar circuit breaker. But yesterday Wes Streeting used his first interview as Labour’s new shadow schools minister to say he did not favour the option.
We also learned that as far as the general public is concerned keeping schools open is the priority.
You can catch-up on the rest of yesterday’s coronavirus related schools news here.