IT’S been five weeks since schools closed their doors to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Since then, most children and teenagers have been carrying on their learning at home in lockdown. And now talk has turned to when school might get back to normal, but there doesn’t seem to be an immediate answer.
“I can’t give you a date,” says schools boss Gavin Williamson, the Government’s Education Secretary. “Of course, I want nothing more than to get schools back to normal, make sure that children are sat around learning and experiencing the joy of being at school.”
But he said the Government needed to be confident any changes made did not risk a second peak of infections. More than 80,000 teachers have signed a petition asking for schools to be opened only when it is safe.
“We will consider how best to reopen schools, nurseries and colleges when the time is right,” said Mr Williamson. The situation is likely to be the same for the whole of the UK. Scotland’s Education Secretary, John Swinney, said that schools there will be closed until “at least” the summer.
There has even been talk of schools opening over summer so that pupils can catch up, but Mr Williamson says there are currently no plans to do so.
Some of Britain’s leading state schools joined together on Monday to open the Oak National Academy. It’s led by 40 teachers who have put together 180 video lessons and resources each week for any teacher in the country to use.
First News is also making its school resources available for free at schools.firstnews.co.uk.
Mr Williamson said he, too, was doing as much as he could to support children learning from home; laptops have been ordered to help disadvantaged young people who sit key exams next year and don’t have a computer at home.
He had a special message directly for children: “I wanted to say to you how sorry I am that you have had your education disrupted in this way.
“I know how hard it must be and I would like to thank you for making the adjustments you have had to make. I know you will be missing your friends, your teachers and your lessons. I want you to know that you are an important part of this fight too and I cannot thank you enough for all that you are doing.”