Published On: Fri, Mar 20th, 2020

UK school closures key workers: Who are key workers? Full list announced

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced schools in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will close on Friday because of the coronavirus outbreak. However, education will continue as normal for children of “key workers”.

Mr Johnson said on Wednesday schools will still need to look after the children of key workers but also the most vulnerable pupils.

This is to ensure public services can continue to operate.

He said the Government is working with nurseries and private schools to help this happen and making food vouchers available.

The Prime Minister also announced exams will not take place in May and June as planned.

The full list includes:

  • Frontline health workers such as doctors and nurses
  • Some teachers and social workers
  • Workers in key public services including those essential to the justice system, religious staff and public service journalists
  • Local and national government workers deemed crucial to delivering essential public services
  • Workers involved in food production processing, distribution, sale and delivery
  • Public safety workers including police, armed forces personnel, firefighters and prison staff
  • Essential air, water, road and rail transport workers
  • Utilities, communication and financial services staff, including postal workers and waste disposal workers

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Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “This is a very long list and could result in some schools having the majority of pupils attending.

“Schools can only accommodate a limited number of children and the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: ”The scientific advice shows that these settings are safe for this small number of children to continue attending.

“But asking others to stay away will just go towards helping us slow the spread of this virus.

“Examples of these key workers include NHS staff, police and delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work.

“Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with educational health and care plans.”

Mr Williamson said the Government is “expecting” early years providers, sixth forms and further education colleges to do the same.

Mr Johnson said the coronavirus is an invisible enemy and it is not clear who is transmitting it.

Asked about the duration of school closures, the Prime Minister said he wants to keep it to an “absolute minimum”.

Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined below. Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

The Government, therefore, urges parents to follow these key principles:

  • If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  • If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
  • Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
  • Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
  • Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.

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