British schools to close to slow spread of coronavirus
Britain on Wednesday ordered schools to close for millions of children until further notice after criticism that the government was too slow to react to the spread of coronavirus, APA reports citing Reuters.
The majority of schools will close from Friday, although some will be asked to remain open to support the children of essential workers like health care employees, education minister Gavin Williamson told parliament.
“I know the situation has become increasingly challenging. I said before that if the science and the advice changed such that keeping schools open would no longer be in the best interests of children and teachers that we would act,” said Williamson.
“We are now at that stage. The spike of the virus is increasing at a faster pace than anticipated.”
The shutting of so many schools will have massive economic and social repercussions for the world’s fifth-biggest economy. It will alter the lives of almost 9 million British children and force parents to stay home from work to look after them.
The decision came after headteachers were increasingly forced to turn away pupils by either closing or partially closing schools because of staff shortages.
The move to shut schools is a reversal of the government’s recent cautious stance toward tackling the virus.
Britain had previously resisted pressure to follow Italy, France, and Spain by officially shutting schools. The government had said that school closures would not halt the outbreak and would deprive the country of key public sector workers.
Head-teachers had expressed frustration after schools had been advised to stay open when the government has stepped up advice earlier this week to curb social contact to try to slow the spread of the virus.
Earlier, Scotland announced it would close its schools from Friday and the government in Edinburgh said there was no guarantee they will reopen before the summer.
“We will of course only keep them closed for as long as we absolutely have to,” said Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon. “But at this stage, I cannot promise that they will reopen before the summer holidays.”
Schools on Wednesday began writing to parents asking if they worked in sectors that will be required to carry on through the peak of the crisis such as medical professionals or care workers.
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