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Lack of staff from coronavirus could trigger school closures, says National Education Union

Union heads call for schools to close amid coronavirus crisis

18 March, 2020 — By Helen Chapman


The government confirmed on Monday that schools should remain open in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, but school leaders fear this may not be possible if there are too few staff to teach and supervise pupils.

A letter from the heads of the NEU to the Prime Minister sent on Tuesday called on the government to enforce school closures.

It comes after a letter sent last week calling for clarity on advice to schools and the effects on vulnerable teachers, staff and parents.

Gerald Clark, NEU officer for Camden, said: “The purpose of the first letter was on sent on the basis that it is not possible to see schools able to function much longer with staff losses.

“We have been advising members on a case by case basis. Some are fairly normal, some are far from normal and we are advising on helping them get through that.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said the meeting with school leaders was part of ongoing engagement “to ensure that the coronavirus outbreak has the least possible impact on children’s education and assure them that any actions taken will be based on the latest medical and scientific guidance.

“The government’s advice continues to be for all schools to remain open unless Public. Health England instruct them otherwise.”

There will be further talks this week to address concerns for schools, including contingency planning for GCSEs and A-levels.

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