Partial closures ‘will continue until we have a vaccine’, says national schools commissioner

Schools having to fully and partially close and then reopen will “become a way of life” until a coronavirus vaccine is found, the national schools commissioner has said.

Opening, reopening, closing, partially closing will continue until we have a vaccine, become a way of life

Dominic Herrington issued the warning during an online conference for academy trust leaders today. He said that a rolling system of “opening, reopening, closing, partially closing” would “become a way of life”, and said the need to send bubbles or whole year groups home would become “more prevalent”.

However, the senior civil servant said he was “pretty clear” he didn’t want schools to close to the majority of pupils again, as they did in the spring.

Schools reopened more widely to pupils earlier this month following four months of partial closure between March and July.

However, although government figures show 99.9 per cent of schools are open, around 4 per cent are partially closed as a result of confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases.

Boris Johnson, the prime minister, insisted schools would remain open despite a ramping up of restrictions on other sectors, following a spike in case numbers, that are expected to last for six months.

Speaking to academy leaders today, Herrington said the virus had “upended” school systems around the world.

“Opening, reopening, closing, partially closing will continue until we have a vaccine, become a way of life,” he said.

“And let’s hope – we’re pretty clear – we don’t want schools to close in the way that they had to before for the vast majority of pupils. Schools and colleges will stay open as long as possible. But the capacity of bubbles, of year groups to need to go home will become more prevalent. So that’s just a challenge that we all have to cope with.”

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  1. Jackie Barber

    There are a huge number of secondary pupils self-isolating in the north-west. In Rochdale borough 11 of 12 secondary schools have sent pupils home and in my daughter’s grammar school in Lancashire, at least 11 pupils have tested positive resulting in 4 of 7 year groups still isolating plus assorted others from sharing school buses and the year 7 bubble sent home 2 days after beginning the term at their new school has just gone back into school. The schools are doing their best but children’s education in this region will suffer, especially in comparison to other parts of the country where closures have, thankfully, been rare so far. Please don’t ignore or forget about us!

  2. Personally, the North west needs to lockdown completely to get it under control! my daughter had a test three days ago and we are still waiting for her results so we can deal with the outcome. we are all off and don’t know whether we will get paid.

  3. Jacquetta

    Schools are obviously going to have huge outbreaks of COVID. Children are in full classes, sitting side by side and generally not socially distanced. The bubble idea will not work. Bubbles overlap when children change lessons and when they all go home en masse, and when they have siblings in other bubbles. Many schools are not even sending the ‘bubble’ home when they do get ‘positive’ Covid cases. Until schools can put proper safety measures in place (masks and proper social distancing and full cleaning between classes) -then schools should close again. Children can learn remotely. Computers/broadband should be provided by the government for those children without them.