Number of children of coronavirus key workers arriving at school today deemed 'manageable'

The number of pupils arriving at schools today is ‘manageable’, school leaders have said, with indications that parents are following advice and only sending youngsters if they have no other option.

Monday, 23rd March 2020, 1:20 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 2:46 pm

There were fears that many more students than expected would arrive for class this morning despite schools being officially closed.

It was announced last week that, while shutting their doors to the general population, schools would remain open for vulnerable youngsters and the children of key workers - including medics, police and food delivery workers.

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The number of children of coronavirus key workers attending school today is 'manageable,' it is claimed

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Ahead of school gates opening, there were pleas for parents to keep their children at home where possible.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said the early signs were that parents had heeded the call to only use the emergency provision offered by schools if they are ‘key workers who have no option available to keep their children at home’.

“Schools are reporting that the number of pupils arriving is manageable,” he said.

“We are grateful to parents for their understanding.

“We would like to pay tribute to schools for their amazing work in organising this provision so quickly. They have calmly gone about the business of identifying children who need places, arranging staffing cover, and providing learning resources for children who are at home. It has been an exemplary exercise in superb leadership.”

Mr Barton added: “Our biggest concern is the health and well-being of staff and pupils who are attending schools. Schools are actively managing this situation by ensuring social distancing, reinforcing messages about washing hands regularly, and ensuring that areas which are being used are regularly cleaned.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), has urged employers not to take advantage of the lengthy list of key workers in order to keep their staff in work.

He said: “My appeal to companies and other employers: Please do not interpret the key workers lists liberally for your own ends.

“Do not put profit over people. School places are there for the most vulnerable and to keep truly crucial operations running.”