This is when pupils in the UK could return to school as coronavirus pandemic continues

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 9:16 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 9:17 am

Schools across the UK closed on Friday 20 March, following an order from the government.

GCSEs and A Levels have been cancelled, casting doubt on thousands of students’ grades and university applications.

And there is still more confusion over when schools in Scotland will reopen, as parents try to plan when to take time off to look after their children.

The order, which includes private schools, nurseries, and professional child-minders, comes amid a rising number of Covid-19 cases across the country.

Schools reopening

While there has been no official guidance from the devolved governments on when schools and colleges will reopen in different parts of the UK, there are hints that they could remain shut until at least September 2020.

Giving away no clues while announcing the closure in the House of Commons, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said schools would be closed “until further notice”.

Last week Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scottish schools would not open after the Easter break, adding that “at this stage I cannot promise that they will reopen before the summer holidays.”

The peak of Covid-19’s spread across the country is predicted to come in late May or early June, meaning that it might not be safe for older staff to return to schools before the autumn.

If that turns out to be the case, students across the country face a five-month period without formal education.

How should parents organise childcare?

The government has said that the closure of schools will not affect vulnerable children and the children of key workers - people with jobs in the healthcare sector and other important industries - but warned that “children who do not fall into these groups should remain at home with appropriate care”.

However, it warned that parents should not turn to elderly grandparents to look after children, and there are few details about how childcare should be organised.

Officials have not made clear whether parents should still be paid if they are forced to take time off to look after children, and there is no official guidance on whether sending children to their friends’ houses on a “playdate rota” would be an effective solution either.