DfE sets up Coronavirus helpline as education secretary advises schools to stay open

Ministers have launched a helpline for school staff and leaders to help manage the spread of Coronavirus.

The Department for Education says the helpline, which will be open from 8am to 6pm on weekdays from now on, “complements the advice being provided by Public Health England and the regular updates we have been sending to all educational settings since the start of February”.

Speaking in the House of Commons earlier today, education secretary Gavin Williamson said the government was “planning reasonably for a worst case scenario” but is advising all schools stay open unless told to close by Public Health England.

It follows confusion among heads over what to do if cases of the virus are suspected. Despite instructions from PHE that there is no need to do so, a number of headteachers have taken the decision to close schools as a precaution.

It also comes after Schools Week revealed that Ofqual is currently working with exam boards and the Department for Education to establish whether any additional contingency measures should be put in place for this year’s summer exam series in response to the outbreak of Coronavirus.

The DfE has notified all educational sessions that the helpline is now active. It is for school staff, leaders and parents.