Coronavirus: Schools will close from Friday and exams will not take place in summer

Boris Johnson announced that all schools will close from Friday (March 20) and exams will not take place this summer in the latest of the government’s daily coronavirus news conferences.

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 7:20 pm

Speaking at today’s press conference (March 18), Boris Johnson said: “I can announce that after schools close their gates on Friday afternoon then schools, for most pupils, will stay closed until further notice.”

The Prime Minister also announced that exams would not be taking place in May and June, including GCSEs and A levels.

He added that he will ensure children due to sit crucial exams will get the qualifications they need.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a news conference addressing the government's response to the coronavirus outbreak (Photo by Simon Dawson-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

He said that the decision to close schools was made to put “downward pressure on the upward curve” and “slow the spread of the disease”, but insisted that schools were not unsafe for children.

Johnson said that nurseries and private schools were being asked to do the same as state schools.

Schools will stay open for the children of “key workers”, including people who work for the NHS, police and delivery drivers.

Some schools have already been in touch with parents to explain what measures they will be taking to enable children to access school work while the schools are closed.

Oughtibridge Primary School in Sheffield sent a message to parents explaining they were “working hard to set up a system where children can access work if they are away from school.”

The system outlined uses Google Classroom software, where parents can access their child’s work using a code they have been sent by email.

The decision follows announcements from Scotland, Wales earlier today confirming that all schools and nurseries there would close from the same date.

Schools in Northern Ireland closed from today.

With 2,626 confirmed cases in the UK as of 2pm today, number of schools in the country have already announced partial closures, primarily due to staff shortages caused by the number of people self isolating.

However, until now, government advice has been that schools should remain open.

Last Friday (March 13) Boris Johnson said: "The scientific advice is that this could do more harm than good at this time but of course we are keeping this under review and this again may change as the disease spreads."

Yesterday at conference Johnson said "it looks as though we are now approaching the fast growth part of the upward curve" of the spread of the disease.