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School leaders issue plea for parents to keep children at home unless absolutely necessary

School leaders are concerned that too many parents are trying to keep their children in school when not absolutely necessary, meaning attempts to stop the spread of Coronavirus could fail.

In a video posted to Twitter today, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, which represents leaders in the majority of schools, urged parents to “Only leave your child at school if you have no other choice.”

Mr Whiteman continued: “All schools have been closed to stop the spread of the virus. I simply do not know how to say this strongly enough. As many children as possible should stay away from school tomorrow. To do otherwise will risk the health of your family and the successful response to Covid-19. Please do not confuse ‘Dunkirk Spirit’ with recklessness.

“The government has asked school leaders, teachers and their support teams to remain accessible to the most vulnerable children who they believe would be in even greater difficulty without school. The government is also aware that some key workers involved in the provision of health care and keeping food supplies going, for example, might need a place of safety for their children as a last resort. But even the children of key workers should stay away if at all possible to stop the spread of the virus.

“School staff have been much depleted due to isolation. Those left working in schools are selflessly responding to the call from government and will take their place with other frontline public servants to support the national response. In doing so they are taking a risk with their own wellbeing to look after the families of others in dire need.

“My appeal to the families of key workers is: This is not business as usual. Keep your family at home if at all possible. Leave the few spaces available for those that truly have no alternative.

“My appeal to companies and other employers: Please do not interpret the key workers lists liberally for your own ends. Do not put profit over people. School places are there for the most vulnerable and to keep truly crucial operations running.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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