Welcome to the Tes coronavirus liveblog. The outbreak of Covid-19 is an uncertain time for everyone, but schools and teachers are facing unprecedented disruption with schools now closed and exams cancelled.
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?
Government promises free tests for school staff
After weeks of campaigning for better protection, school staff have been told they can apply for free coronavirus tests for themselves and their families.
School leaders said the move was a “welcome step in the right direction”.
NEU joint-general secretary Kevin Courtney added: “Our call for testing has been unceasing. The government has been slow to respond, and there will be a fear amongst school staff that this promise will follow the pattern of previous pledges to contain the virus.
“Our members will not tolerate dither and delay. They need certainty and, from the health secretary, swift action to make this promise a reality.”
Read the full story here.
No guarantee free laptops will arrive before schools return
Despite pledging to supply disadvantaged pupils with free laptops and tablets, to enable all children to continue learning “now”, the DfE has been unable to guarantee that devices will be delivered before schools reopen.
Asked for confirmation by Tes, it simply said it hoped the first devices will be delivered within the next few weeks.
A DfE spokesperson said: “The programme is progressing as planned and devices will start to be delivered in the coming weeks.”
Read the full story here.
Free school meal system still in disarray
As the first week back after the Easter holidays draws to a close, many people are still reporting issues with the DfE’s free school meals voucher scheme.
Now the government’s estimate for the maximum time it should take for voucher codes to be delivered has risen from 72 hours to four days.
The DfE has also said all orders placed up to last Sunday (19 April) have now been delivered – but this has been disputed by teachers on social media.
Matt Hickey, a primary school head, said: “My order from 10/04/20 is still pending – 13 days and counting.”
Read the full story here.
Sturgeon leaves door open on pre- summer schools reopening
She also suggested that students may not all return to school at the same time, and may not all attend at the same time when schools do reopen. When asked, she did not rule out schools reopening before the summer.
Ms Sturgeon spoke this afternoon as the Scottish government published a paper on how lockdown measures might be eased, indicating that this would not be "a flick of the switch" and that measures such as social distancing could last well beyond this year.
Edtech systems aren't as fit for purpose as they could be due to a focus on the outdated ideas
Heads have said the focus on “old-fashioned” accountability measures such as the EBacc meant there was less investment in online learning platforms in recent years.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told the BBC: "I think we’re going to look back at this period and think we spent the last ten years fixating on a pretty old-fashioned curriculum looking backwards on the EBacc and all of that when in fact we could have been investing in making sure you had a curriculum which linked with children at home."
Speaking later to Tes, he said: “I used EBacc as a proxy for accountability measures that are very narrow. I think we will look back at what we could have done to use Ed tech in the classroom and at home - this is a moment that brings that into sharp focus.”
Teacher who ‘inspired a whole generation’ dies with coronavirus
A highly-regarded teacher and member of the Tes community has sadly died after contracting covid-19.
Andrew Granath, who had an “extremely distinguished career” in education and academia, passed away on Thursday 9 April.
Mr Granath taught government and politics at Queenswood School in Hertfordshire, where colleagues said he would be “sorely missed”.
He previously worked at Latymer School in North London for 28 years.
Mr Granath also wrote for Tes, authored a book on socialism, and was a successful contestant on Mastermind.
A tribute posted on the Latymer School website reads: “Andrew’s warmth, wit and popularity were incomparable.
“He inspired a whole generation of Latymerians with his knowledge of history and politics but he also had a legendary enthusiasm for the world around him.
“Whatever the subject, Andrew always had an interesting fact or funny anecdote to hand. The world is a duller place for his passing.”
Disinfecting desks twice a day and reduced class sizes - Danish teachers adjust to life in re-opened but socially distant schools
For teachers in the UK and many other parts of the world the idea of being back in school seems a long way off.
However, Danish primary schools have been open again for a week after a five-week closure.
While things are not exactly back to normal their experiences do offer a fascinating insight into how other schools may eventually start to return - with some hefty social distancing measures in place.
Read this international primary school head's experience of life at school in a pandemic
'Confusion' over who pays supply teachers
The government has been accused of making it harder for supply teachers to get paid by “changing the boundaries” on who is responsible for paying them during school closures.
Government guidance last month stated that supply teachers working for agencies and umbrella companies could be paid through the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (also known as the furlough scheme).
However, new guidance states that schools may still pay agencies for supply teachers on "live assignments".
Supply teacher Tim Holden, who runs Facebook groups for supply teachers and says he has helped more than 1,500 teachers in the past three weeks, said the new guidance "created confusion" because it was still unclear who should pay such supply teachers.
Read the full story here.
A long haul, low attendance, and laptops
So now it’s official – there will be no return to anything resembling our previous normality for “really quite a long period of time”.
The government’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has made it clear that social distancing will remain at least until the end of the year.
Time will tell what exactly that means for schools but it will surely rule out any kind of full re-openings – things are going to be quite different even when pupils do go back.
For now, confusion has emerged over how many pupils have been going into school during the lockdown.
All seemed clear on Tuesday when the Department for Education released figures showing that by the end of last week attendance had dropped to 0.9 per cent of all pupils in England.
But yesterday children’s minister Vicky Ford – appearing before the first online lockdown meeting of the Commons education select committee – cast doubt on her own department’s figures saying attendance was “actually a bit higher than that”.
One thing that people are agreed on is concern that only around 5 per cent of “vulnerable” children are going in.
Meanwhile it seems very unclear how aid for some disadvantaged pupils - in the form of free laptops - is going to be allocated. The DfE has told Tes that it will let individual local authorities and academy chains decide the definition of “disadvantaged” for their schools.
And the DfE will not say how it will define disadvantaged for the schools where it will be in charge – single standalone academies.
Click here to catch up on the rest of yesterday’s events.