Prime minister Boris Johnson has announced a strict lockdown across the country – but schools will remain open to specific pupils, including the children of key workers.
The measures announced tonight are aimed at ensuring that members of the public do not leave their house except to :
- Shop for essentials, as infrequently as possible.
- Exercise outdoors once per day, alone or with household members.
- Receive medical treatment or provide care.
- Travel to and from work if it is impossible for them to work from home.
Tonight's announcement led many education figures to question on Twitter what this meant for schools, for example whether access would be further restricted, or whether they would be closed entirely:
What about schools?— Sam Twiselton OBE (@samtwiselton) March 23, 2020
However, a Department for Education spokesperson has confirmed to Tes that the guidance for schools remains unchanged.
School staff not included in coronavirus lockdown
And written guidance published this evening states: "If you work in a critical sector outlined in this guidance, or your child has been identified as vulnerable, you can continue to take your children to school."
But the changes are still significant for schools, according to headteacher Vic Goddard, who said there was now a need to be "even firmer in ensuring we have as few students and staff in as possible".
No change for schools. We must be even firmer in ensuring we have as few students and staff in as possible. Please don’t ask all/lots of staff to be in school. It is not the right thing to do for anyone— Vic Goddard (@vicgoddard) March 23, 2020
And for one multi-academy trust leader, the move amplified the risks being taken by teachers going into schools during the crisis:
We are the front line. Don’t anyone EVER make a disparaging comment about a teacher or teaching near me again.— Jonny Uttley (@JonnyUttley) March 23, 2020