Coronavirus: Schools will shut for everyone except children of 'key workers'

18 March 2020, 18:18 | Updated: 18 March 2020, 19:05

Boris Johnson has announced all schools will be closing
Boris Johnson has announced all schools will be closing. Picture: Getty

By Adrian Sherling

Schools in the UK will be closed as the country deals with the unprecedented task of stemming the spread of coronavirus.

Earlier in the afternoon, the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales announced their schools would be closing due to coronavirus.

Sources from Stormont then revealed that schools would be closed in Northern Ireland to pupils immediately, and to the teachers by Friday.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that all schools will be closed from Friday in a statement in the Commons.

Children of "key workers" and the most vulnerable will be allowed to attend those schools.

Prime Minister Mr Johnson also confirmed schools would be closing, and said nurseries and creches will be expected to do the same.

However, he 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.

READ MORE: [Live] Worldwide coronavirus cases tops 200,000

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has also confirmed the measures
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has also confirmed the measures. Picture: Getty

Mr Johnson also confirmed that the government has the power to enforce all schools, including private ones, to close.

He added the government would provide meals and vouches for children who were in need of them.

Exams will also not be taking place as planned in May and June.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said they may even be unable to open again before the summer holidays.

Mr Johnson has been facing calls to close education centres for a number of days, but the Prime Minister has been reluctant to, saying the decision was "under review".

On Monday, he urged people to avoid mass gatherings or social situations, but said that "on balance" it was better to keep them open.

He said: “There is an argument about school closures. We think at the moment on balance it’s much better if we can keep schools open, for all sorts of reasons.

"But I appreciate again that this is something we need to keep under review.”

The news comes as 104 people across the UK have died from the virus.

In addition, 676 more people in the UK tested positive for the virus, bringing the total to 2,626.

More to follow...