Until recently the expert advice has been that we should keep schools open to reduce the pressure on the NHS and on other public services. But this has always been a balanced judgement and kept under constant review.
Based on the latest advice, we have made the decision to now close schools for the vast majority of pupils until further notice. This will mean there will be far fewer children in schools and that will help us to slow the spread of the disease. However, we will be continuing to provide school places for the children of key workers to ensure our NHS and vital services continue to have the workforces they need.
We need health workers and other critical workers – from police officers to supermarket delivery drivers– to keep going to work. So schools are being asked to make provision for the children of these people. These measures are crucial to make sure the critical parts of the economy keep functioning and public services keep functioning. Schools will also be asked to make provision for vulnerable children. For those children who rely on free school meals, we will ensure that meals and vouchers are available.
Closing schools for the vast majority will help in our efforts to suppress the upward trend of the virus while continuing to look after the children of key workers will be a critical part of our fightback against coronavirus.
As you can appreciate, this is a fast-moving situation. I would strongly advise you to check the Government website, at gov.uk/coronavirus for further information and a list of key workers whose children will be able to continue to attend school.