Parents urged not to send children to school

With schools across the UK now closed for most pupils, parents are being encouraged to keep their children at home unless ‘absolutely necessary’.

Although primary and secondary schools are officially shut because of the coronavirus outbreak, the government announced that children who are vulnerable or whose parents are ‘key workers’ can still attend.

However, due to staff shortages, Paul Whiteman, head of school leaders' union the NAHT, has said that even the children of key workers should stay away if possible. He said that it was important that schools were able to ‘leave the few spaces available for those that truly have no alternative’.

Key workers include frontline health workers, such as doctors and nurses, workers in key public services including those essential to the justice system, religious staff and public service journalists, as well as workers involved in food production processing, distribution, sale and delivery.

However, despite several government statements on the issue, confusion remains about which parents were eligible for key worker status.

Mary Boysted, general secretary of the National Education Union said: "Headteachers and teachers are having to deal with numerous demands from parents because the government has wrongly created an expectation that their child can be kept in school.

"Some local authorities and some companies are encouraging their staff to say they are key workers - this is very dangerous and won't allow us to suppress the spread of this horrible virus. The government needs to issue urgent clarification and information to parents that their child should only be at school if there is no alternative."

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