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Coronavirus update (16 March)

A message sent from NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman on Monday 16 March 2020. 

Coronavirus and school closures

I trust you are finding our updates relating to Coronavirus useful.

Although things are moving rapidly, the government and devolved assemblies are continuing to ask that schools do all they can to remain open for the time being.

This has understandably created a number of issues for our members. I’m well aware that many of you will be having to manage staff absences as a result of the government’s self-isolation policy. I am also conscious of the very significant challenges this poses to those of you working in special schools.

It is important to reiterate that while government are currently asking that schools remain open, school leaders continue to be responsible for judging whether it is safe to do so given their unique and individual circumstances.

If a school leader, in consultation with the Chair of Governors, feels it is not safe to keep the school open due to staff shortages, they may need to implement a partial or full closure.

I need to be very clear that we are not suggesting that schools disregard official government advice that they remain open if possible. We are simply reiterating that school leaders are still able to make decisions based on their particular circumstances having undertaken a risk assessment.

I appreciate that clear guidance from the government on this particular issue is absolutely essential if the school-level response is to be as effective as possible. I will ensure this message is communicated clearly to them on your behalf.

First published 16 March 2020