- Schools will close across the UK in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
- The Education Secretary confirmed English schools will close on Friday afternoon “until further notice.”
- The Welsh and Scottish governments will also close their schools at the end of this week.
- Exams will be cancelled, with creches nurseries and private schools also shuttered.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been under growing pressure to close Britain’s schools.
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Schools will close across the UK on Friday afternoon “until further notice” in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic across Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Wednesday.
The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced on Wednesday afternoon that English schools will close on Friday afternoon, with upcoming GCSE and A-Level exams cancelled.
The Scottish and Welsh governments confirmed on Wednesday that their schools would also close this week.
“After schools shut their doors on Friday afternoon they will remain closed until further notice,” Williamson told the UK Parliament.
Addressing a press conference after Williamson’s announcement, Johnson said that special provision would be made for vulnerable children and the children of NHS workers and other emergency workers. Meal vouchers will also be provided for children who currently receive free school meals.
Private nurseries, creches and private schools will be closed and financially compensated, Johnson said.
Johnson said that GCSE and A-level exams will not go ahead but insisted that pupils will “get the qualifications they need and deserve.”
Watch Boris Johnson announce school closures
'Exams will not take place as planned in May and June'@BorisJohnson says the government will 'make sure that pupils get the qualifications they need and deserve for their academic career, despite not sitting exams #coronavirus https://t.co/lGfliBKA8R pic.twitter.com/nzg6VJGksI
— ITV News (@itvnews) March 18, 2020
The prime minister suggested that teachers could assess pupils for the purposes of university admissions without formally sitting exams.
He also urged people not to leave their children with grandparents, given the increased risk from COVID-19 to that age group.
Earlier on Wednesday the Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that schools in their countries had lost too many staff through sickness and self-isolation to remain open.
The Northern Irish devolved government was also expected to make a similar announcement.
Johnson had been under growing pressure to announce the closure of schools following the UK government’s imposition of new guidance against mass public gatherings earlier this week.
He had previously resisted calls to announce closures insisting that the science had shown that it could be counter-productive.