Close the schools?

Schools across the UK will be shut indefinitely at the end of the week

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What's going on with the closure of schools due to coronavirus?

By Joe Harker

In recent weeks one of the main questions put to prime minister Boris Johnson has been when the schools are going to close due to the coronavirus.

When isolated cases were reported some schools closed, but the government had tried to keep them open as long as possible.

However, the situation couldn't continue and at the end of the week Britain's schools will shut their doors for an indefinite period of time.

The Claim:

It is the first nationwide closure of schools in British history, exams have been cancelled and (presumably) millions of schoolkids are cheering at the prospect of no school for ages.

Some schools will stay open as the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils will still be expected to attend classes, but for most there will be a delay to classes and exams.

Parents are being encouraged to help their children with school from home, it could be months before they return to the classroom and they will need something to do in the meantime.

With the progress coronavirus was making it was inevitable that the schools would close, even if it has taken longer than many expected.

It was always going to happen, what matters now is how the staff and students are going to be looked after in the meantime.

The Counter Claim:

However, it throws a lot of futures into doubt as the details on exams are unclear and the knock-on effect it will have on university admissions is not yet known.

Many students were expecting to sit their exams soon, with the results due to determine what shape the next part of their education would take.

No exams, no results and an unclear pathway to universities means hundreds of thousands are wondering where they will be going or when when they can expect their education to continue.

The government has been accused of a lack of clarity, leading the prime minister to promise that they will outline the details later on so people know what sort of situation they are dealing with.

They have also been criticised for failing to sort out the details and communicate them to staff. Many teachers don't know how they're supposed to be teaching their students or what is meant to be, forced to get their updates from the news rather than official communications.

The Facts:

Around 10 per cent of students will still be going to school, deemed as being vulnerable or having parents in important professions during the pandemic.

NHS staff, police and delivery drivers are top of the list of important professions as their roles in treating the disease, keeping order and guaranteeing the UK's supply chains don't fall apart are considered too crucial to be distracted from.

A series of "skeleton schools" with minimal staff will teach those pupils, while school kitchens will be part of the effort to replace free school meals, an important part of keeping impoverished students fed.

Around 4.5 million pupils were due to take GCSEs while half a million were preparing to take A Levels, they don't know when they should be expected to retake them or what will happen with the grading.

One suggested method of grading is for teachers to award their student a result given their work over the course of the year, submitting a piece of their work for exam boards to check and judge whether it is a fair ruling.

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The Times

Coronavirus: Boris Johnson announces closure of schools in England

Boris Johnson has ordered the first nationwide shutdown of schools in British history to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Exams were cancelled as schools and nurseries prepared to shut their gates indefinitely from Friday with only the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils able to attend basic facilities.

Pupils were left in limbo as Mr Johnson took the unprecedented step and indicated that grades would be awarded through an alternative system, but failed to set out details.

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