Mr Williamson will speak with school leaders and discuss the possible actions the government might take to protect Britons from the coronavirus outbreak. This comes after a lot of criticism of the UK’s decision to keep schools open, despite school closures globally. Paul Whiteman, the General Secretary for the National Association of Head Teachers said: “School leaders are obviously concerned about the impact on exams and assessments, but right now their main priority is keeping children safe”.
While Ireland, France and Denmark are among a host of northern European countries to shut schools, for the moment at least they remain open in the UK.
However, after today’s meeting with the NAHT, it may change.
Ofsted will also be involved with the meeting with the Education Secretary today.
Yesterday the NEU union wrote to the Chief Inspector calling for routine inspections to be halted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While closing schools is effective for controlling serious flu epidemics, Covid-19 seems to affect children less.
There is still a risk, though, that children can transmit the virus to their parents and grandparents.
The BBC reported the government are worried that school closures would take many much-needed NHS staff away from their jobs.
The British strategy is to delay the onset of the peak of the disease until the summer months, when the NHS is under less pressure, and to spread the peak of the epidemic to make treatment more manageable.
The aim has also been to manage the spread of the infection, so that the population builds up some immunity to the virus, should it return in successive years.
Efforts to stamp it out too quickly risk leading to the epidemic returning, perhaps during the winter, once the extreme measures have been lifted.
This would be a time when the health service was again under pressure.
However, the UK public have not backed this, and have taken to social media to voice their strong opinions.
One Twitter user said: “So the rest of the world are protecting their citizens, but Boris Johnson tells us we are going to die and to still send our kids to school? Disgusting.”
Another said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is much worse than it seems. My friend has awful symptoms and has not had someone come out to test her for days. The numbers are actually a lot higher than the official numbers they release daily. Schools should be closed ASAP.”
Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, told BBC radio: “I can guarantee that some of the choices we will have to make in the coming weeks ahead will not be popular.
“There are parents that are worried and think that closing schools will keep children safe and yet children and young people are one of the lowest risk groups.
“When we’re talking about the level of risk that we face, with the numbers of people that we think are going to be unwell, with the numbers of people we think are, actually, not going to survive, you have to do what is right first.”
Published at Mon, 16 Mar 2020 12:15:00 +0000