CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Schools will shut gates until further notice on Friday

The council say plans are in place to support the borough's most vulnerable children

18 March, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

 

The government has announced that schools will remain closed until further notice as of Friday.

Education chief councillor Angela Mason said: “We have been working on plans for continuing to deliver free school meals and provide support to children who have special needs or those who are most vulnerable.”

The advice is for all schools, nurseries, sixth forms and further education colleges, except to children who are considered vulnerable.

It is also confirmed that exams will no longer go ahead.

Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, said in a statement today: “Schools are increasingly finding it more difficult to continue as normal as illness and self-isolation impacts on staffing levels and pupil attendance.

“After schools shut their gates on Friday afternoon, they will remain closed until further notice. This will be for all children except to those of key workers and where children who are most vulnerable.

“The scientific evidence shows that the settings are safe for this small number of children to continue attending but asking others to stay away will go towards helping us slow the spread of this virus.

“Examples of these key workers include NHS staff, police and delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work.

“Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Educational Health and Care Plans. Looking after those children will help schools support the country through this incredibly and extremely challenging time.

“We are working with Her Majesty’s Treasury on the financial support that will be required.”

The announcement comes after a letter from the heads of the NEU calling on the government to enforce closures.

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

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We will continue to do as we have done from the beginning to do the right thing at the right time and to follow the best scientific advice. We come today to the key issue of schools. So far, the judgement of our advice is that closing schools is of limited value in slowing spread of epidemic. Schools are very safe environments and, in this disease, and this epidemic children and young people are less vulnerable.

“This is a balanced judgement and one that is kept under constant review.

“For many parents it will be frustrating and it will make it harder for them to go out and to work and this is one of the reasons why we didn’t want it to go ahead. That’s why we are now working on further measures to ensure we support not just businesses but also individuals and their families to keep our economy going.”

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