On March 20th all schools in the UK closed and so began the first nationwide school shutdown in modern history. Since the closure there has been little said at government level about when schools might reopen again, which is understandable given how little is known about the possible duration of the pandemic.
Both Boris Johnson and Gavin Williamson have both stated that schools will remain closed “until further notice”. Given that the crisis in the UK has not yet reached the peak, we cannot expect any further clarification on this in the near future.
In his announcement on 18th March Boris Johnson promised to keep closures to an “absolute minimum”, which is in line with the reluctance he showed towards closing schools in the first place.
Geoff Barton (General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders), has advised that he is not expecting schools to open again before September 2020. This bleak outlook has not been shared by anybody in government. Given the reluctance to shut schools in the first and the promise to keep closures to an “absolute minimum” it is clearly hoped that schools will reopen in the summer term at some point. No harm in hoping for the best as long as we are preparing for the worst.
Boris Johnson may well have been reluctant to close schools, but developments since 20th March would appear to have vindicated the decision. We have observed a fierce escalation of the crisis in the UK and the government’s response has been stepped up considerably with further restrictions.
So given recent developments, when can we expect schools to reopen? When schools closed on March 20th there was speculation in some circles that this would be the last day of the 2019/2020 academic year. There was however confidence elsewhere that after 4 weeks the schools could reopen again at the start of the summer term.
Last weekend’s announcement that restrictions will be in place for next 6 months seems to have put an end to hopes that schools will be starting back after the Easter Break. GCSEs, SATs and A Level s have been cancelled indicating that government clearly expects schools to be closed well into the summer term.
Whilst there have been very few cases in the UK of children and young people becoming sick, experts believe they still carry the virus. Attending at school will exacerbate the spread between students and staff and they could also infect people whilst traveling to and from school. Recent developments have also indicated that young people are more susceptible to becoming sick from the virus than initially believed.
So schools will remain closed until further notice and the answer to when they will reopen will depend on how effective the country’s response has been to the spread of the virus. Recent reports suggest that social distancing is slowing the spread and now the virus will start to die out. There will be a peak over Easter and then infections will start to fall. Whether this means social distancing will be relaxed and schools reopen is yet to be seen. We certainly hope so! But not if this means going through all this again in a couple of months time.
We are currently recruiting on several roles to start in September 2020 so please check out our current vacancies if you are looking for new job opportunities in the education sector.