It’s been announced that schools in the UK are to shut their doors from Friday 20 March until further notice, as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Following this announcement, nurseries, private schools and sixth forms were told that they should also follow the guidance given by the government to shut down. The announcement from the government said that “financial support for these settings” would be provided as required.
In the event of advised closures, The Department for Education set out its expectations that local authorities should continue to pass on the government funding it receives for these entitlements to providers.
The government also confirmed that there will not be a rise in the fees paid by early years and childcare providers to register with Ofsted in 2020-21.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “We will continue to pay for all free early years entitlements in places, even in the event that settings are closed on the advice of Public Health England, or children are not able to attend due to coronavirus, and we will not be asking for funding back from local authorities.”
The Department of Education also stated that Ofsted is to temporarily suspend any routine inspections for schools, colleges, early years settings, children’s social care providers and local authorities, in order to reduce the “burden on the staff who are providing vital services to the nation in response to coronavirus”.
The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.
As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.
The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.
Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.
As of Monday 16 March the government advised that everyone should be observing social distancing - avoiding unnecessary travel and working from home where possible. Anyone with a cough or cold symptoms now needs to self-isolate with their entire household for 14 days. The government has also advised against going to the pub, out for dinner or partaking in any socialising with large groups. This has caused a number of closures across the country. Schools will close from Friday 20 March for the foreseeable future and exams have been cancelled.
The over 70s or anyone who is vulnerable or living with an underlying illness are being asked to be extra careful and stay at home to self-isolate.