Coronavirus: Schools to stay open despite calls for social distancing

Schools look set to stay open for the time being despite the government upping its coronavirus fightback, including urging social distancing.

However, the government’s chief scientific adviser has admitted it “may be necessary to think about closures”.

Prime minster Boris Johnson has announced new measures today urging people to work from home if possible, stop all unnecessary contact and travel, and avoid pubs and restaurants.

This was because we are approaching the “fast growth” phase of the curve, Johnson said.

He did not announce any new measures on schools.

But Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief science adviser, said: “It may be necessary to think about things like school closures, but those things need to be done at the right time.”

Johnson later added: “We think at the moment on balance it’s much better if we can keep schools open for all sorts of reasons, but I appreciate this is something we need to keep under review.”

However the government has now urged anyone with symptoms to stay at home for 14 days, rather than seven. Furthermore, anyone who lives with someone who is ill is also being told to stay at home for 14 days.

Both these measures are likely to have a huge impact on already-stretched school staffing.

The government said more precise details on the new measures will be published online shortly.