‘Schools across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are to close on Friday because of the coronavirus epidemic.
What will the impact be?
How long are schools likely to be closed?
Head teachers in England, at least, think schools will not open again properly before September.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she cannot guarantee that schools in Scotland will reopen before August.
The peak of the virus outbreak is likely to be in May and June, after which most schools start to wind down.
But ultimately it will depend to a large extent on the effectiveness of measures to reduce the spread of the outbreak.
Deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries said school closures were necessary to reduce social contact throughout society and hence the spread of the virus.
So will every school be completely closed?
No. Some schools will be kept open with a skeleton staff to provide support for the children of key workers, including NHS staff, police and food delivery drivers.
Schools will also be asked to help those most in need – for example, children who receive free school meals and those with special educational needs or education health care plans.
But it is not yet clear which schools will be the ones to provide these services.
Mr Williamson said in England the aim would be to provide support in school for an estimated 10% of pupils.
Teaching unions are supportive of the plans, but say they want to see more details of the plans urgently.
The government says it’s also asking nurseries and private schools to close, and will provide financial support if needed.’
Read more: How long could schools be closed?