Government announces nationwide school shutdown to tackle spread of Covid-19

All schools in England will close until further notice from Friday, March 20. Picture: Getty Images

All schools in England will close until further notice from Friday, March 20. Picture: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Schools across east and north Devon will close at the end of Friday (March 20) as part of a government crackdown on the spread of Covid-19.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday (March 18) that all schools in the UK, bar a few exceptions, will close.

Mr Johnson said ‘downward pressure’ needs to be applied to the ‘upward curve’ of the virus by closing schools.

He said: “I can confirm that after schools shut their gates from Friday afternoon, they will remain closed for the vast majority of pupils until further notice. The objective is to slow the spread of the virus and we judge that this is the right moment to do it.”

Mr Johnson said the NHS needs to keep going and treat the rising number of cases.

He said: “We need health workers who are also parents to continue to go to work and we need other critical workers with children to keep doing their job too – from police officers who are keeping us safe to the supermarket delivery drivers.”

Mr Johnson said the government needs schools to make provisions for the children of the ‘key workers’ who would otherwise be forced to stay home.

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He said: “This will mean there will be far fewer children in the schools and that will help us to slow the spread of the disease.

“These measures are crucial to make sure the critical parts of the economy keep functioning and public services keep functioning.”

The government will be simultaneously asking nurseries and private schools to do the same, and will provide financial support where it’s needed.

Mr Johnson said: “We are making provisions to supply meals and vouchers for children eligible for free school meals.

“Where some schools are already doing this, I want to make it clear, that we will reimburse the cost.”

The move means thousands of pupils will not sit their A-levels and GCSEs in May and June.

Mr Johnson said the government will make sure they get the qualifications they ‘need and deserve’.

He said while the steps won’t be easy for teachers and parents, the government will work on further measures to ensure it supports individuals and their families to keep the economy going.

The Prime Minister reminded parents that children should not be left with older relatives.