The Government has now announced plans to close all schools in England from 20th March 2020. Due to the increasing number of teachers and students needing to self-isolate, I understand that it was becoming increasingly difficult for schools to remain open safely, and there were also concerns about children contracting Covid-19 from each other and then spreading it to more vulnerable family members. Some schools will remain open to provide childcare for essential key-workers including NHS staff, police, grocery store staff and carers, and for some vulnerable children. Full government guidance can be found here.
I am concerned about the impact this will have on students from low-income households who are eligible for free school meals. The Government has indicated they will be providing food vouchers and meals to these students but families need urgent clarity on how this will be delivered.
I also understand that this will have an impact on many parents’ ability to work, especially at a time when grandparents should not be relied upon for childcare. It is important that the Government guarantees the income of families by ending the five week wait for Universal Credit and intervening to prevent people from losing their jobs. The Government must also provide clarity for students waiting to sit their GCSEs and A-levels to allow them to plan for the next stage of their education next year.