All schools in England are to close at the end of the week to the vast majority of pupils amid the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, it has been announced.
It was announced earlier on Wednesday that schools in Scotland and Wales would be closing on Friday, with First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon warning that people should not assume that they will open again until the end of the summer term. Schools in Northern Ireland closed on Wednesday with immediate effect.
It is understood that schools can no longer continue as normal due to large numbers of staff self-isolating.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said;
“After schools shut their gates on Friday afternoon, they will remain closed until further notice.
“This will be for all children, except for those of key workers and where children who are most vulnerable.”
Mr Williamson also advised independent and boarding schools to close. He added that a national voucher system for children eligible for free school meals.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that exams will not take place in May and June as planned, but alternative arrangements will be made to ensure that students get the academic qualifications they deserve. He urged parents not to leave children with older relatives and grandparents as they may be more at risk from the virus.
There have now been over 2,600 cases of the virus recorded in the UK and 104 deaths.