Will schools reopen after Easter in UK, and what’s happening with exams? – The SunApril 13, 2020
SCHOOLS have been closed since March 20 after Boris Johnson reluctantly made the move to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Since then things have developed as further restrictions have been announced and the situation has become increasingly severe. Here are all the details.
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What do we know so far?
Coronavirus has closed schools and canceled exams across the country except for pupils of key workers and vulnerable children.
In his March 18 address, Boris Johnson stated UK schools will be closed “until further notice”, leaving a lot of ambiguity as the truth is that we don't know how long lockdown measures will last.
The government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.
This applies to all schools all over the UK.
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However, despite previous estimations that schools may not reopen properly until September, one unnamed senior minister has claimed that they could begin to open their doors after the Easter holidays.
Speaking to The Times, the government official said: "We need to be led by the science, of course.
"But if we can reopen schools after the Easter holidays things could begin to get back to normal. It could kick-start the economy."
The Sun Online has approached the Department of Education for an update on the current situation and how re-opening schools will be managed.
But Downing Street have shut down claims schools will reopen after Easter following Sadiq Khan's warning the peak number of UK deaths is still “around 10 days away”.
The Government is unlikely to lift the lockdown while deaths are so high and with the NHS still under significant pressure.
At the press conference on April 8, the government shut down the idea that schools could reopen and quoted advisers who said it was too early to talk about any lockdown measures being eased.
Will schools reopen after Easter?
Schools are closed because the scientific and medical advice indicated that was the safest thing to do, and schools will subsequently re-open when advice shows it is safe to do so.
There is current speculation that they won't open until September 2020, though this really depends on the state of how Britain handles the spread of the virus.
Several ministers have said this could be as soon as two weeks after the Easter holidays, however, this notion was downplayed by the government during the briefing on April 8.
The coronavirus lockdown is expected to last until at least May, shutting down rumours of children returning after the break.
The current focus is on keeping everyone indoors to relieve strain on the NHS and reduce the UK death count, sidelining otherwise important parenting and education issues for now.
"Skeleton" schools are now catering for about 10 per cent of pupils, while emergency measures are being introduced to help poorer families access free school meals.
Teachers are conducting distance learning with pupils and a lot of online tutoring companies have been offering free assistance.
It is also increasingly apparent that young people are not as immune to the virus as was previously believed.
The latest information provided by the Department of Education has echoed the Prime Minister.
It states: "Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, schools, colleges and childcare providers will be closed to the majority of pupils until further notice."
Guidelines add that "the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, will protect the NHS and save lives by reducing the risks of spreading the virus."
The Prime Minister has also urged parents not to leave children in the care of grandparents or older relatives who are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill with coronavirus.
What is going on with exams?
Exams have been cancelled, leaving hard-working teenagers in a difficult, stressful and frustrating place around their futures.
The exam regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards will work with teachers to provide grades to students whose exams have been cancelled this summer. Exam boards will not be issuing any papers or tests at all.
The government is using a mix of student performance criteria that include teacher assessments, mock exam grades and overviews of a pupil's general work.
The government guidelines say: "The calculated grades awarded will be formal grades, with the same status as grades awarded in any other year."
University representatives expect universities to be flexible and do all they can to support students and ensure they can progress to higher education.
There is a lot of worry over how that will play out in practice, particularly for underprivileged students or kids who just didn't take the mock exams as seriously as the real deal.
5 key principles to bare in mind
- If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they must be.
- If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
- Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
- Parents must also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They must observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
- Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.
If a student does not believe the correct process has been followed in their case they will be able to appeal on that basis.
In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam, as soon as is reasonably possible after schools and colleges open again.
Students will also have the option to sit their exams in summer 2021.
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