Coronavirus: Parents urged not to send children to school

Mar 23, 2020 by

Schools are shut from today except to pupils who are vulnerable or whose parents are “key workers”.

Parents are being told to keep their children at home unless “absolutely necessary”, as schools across the UK close to most pupils.

Schools are officially shut because of the coronavirus outbreak, but children who are vulnerable or whose parents are “key workers” can still attend.

Paul Whiteman, head of school leaders’ union the NAHT, said school staff have been “much depleted”.

Even the children of key workers should stay away if possible, he said.

“Only leave your child at school if you have no other choice,” said Mr Whiteman.

“My appeal to the families of key workers is: This is not business as usual keep your family at home if at all possible.

“Leave the few spaces available for those that truly have no alternative.”

Putting lessons online

Schools across the UK have been working to put lessons and schoolwork online, so that pupils can keep up with their studies.

At Hampton Hill Junior School in Richmond, London, staff had emergency training sessions on Friday in how to use Google classroom and all children were issued with a log-in so they can access work from home.

“We’ll be remotely available to answer any questions,” Tracey Bannister, the school’s special educational needs co-ordinator, told the BBC.

Ms Bannister said the mood in school, which is open for key workers’ children and vulnerable children, is sombre.

“I think it’s a very different mood this morning,” she said.

“In the staff meeting, we all sat further apart – there is definitely a different mood and maybe trepidation.”

Pradeep Shetty, a carer whose daughter is eligible to attend school, says the current situation is difficult for everyone – for those who will be at home and those still coming to school.

Mr Shetty says those children who are in will soon find it is very different from a regular school day.

“It’s hard for them to take as well – it’s not a normal thing, just to be here without their friends.”

Who are “key workers”?

The full list includes:

  • Frontline health workers such as doctors and nurses
  • Some teachers and social workers
  • Workers in key public services including those essential to the justice system, religious staff and public service journalists
  • Local and national government workers deemed crucial to delivering essential public services
  • Workers involved in food production processing, distribution, sale and delivery
  • Public safety workers including police, armed forces personnel, firefighters and prison staff
  • Essential air, water, road and rail transport workers
  • Utilities, communication and financial services staff, including postal workers and waste disposal workers

Read more: Whose children will still be able to go to school?

Teachers’ unions have also raised concerns that there is some confusion about which parents are eligible for key worker status.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the National Education Union said: “Head teachers and teachers are having to deal with numerous demands from parents because the government has wrongly created an expectation that their child can be kept in school.

“Some local authorities and some companies are encouraging their staff to say they are key workers – this is very dangerous and won’t allow us to suppress the spread of this horrible virus.

“The government needs to issue urgent clarification and information to parents that their child should only be at school if there is no alternative.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said schools were only open for the few, not the many.

“If your work is not critical in the response to Coronavirus then please keep your child at home.

“We will be closely monitoring what is happening in schools and will ensure they get the support they need in the weeks and months ahead.”

Friday was the last school day for most children across the UK until further notice.

A-level and GCSE pupils will be graded via teacher assessments after exams, including Highers, were cancelled.

Source: Coronavirus: Parents urged not to send children to school – BBC News

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