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BREAKING NEWS – COVID-19: All schools to close in Crawley from Friday

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Gavin Williamson the Education Secretary has announced that all schools across England are to close from end of the schools day on Friday (20th March) until further notice.

The news came just minutes after two more Crawley schools, Oriel High School and The Gatwick School made announcements of students being stopped from coming into school from tomorrow.

Speaking in the House of Commons he said:

“I want to provide parents, students and staff with the certainty they need.

“After schools shut their gates on Friday afternoon, they will remain closed until further notice.

“This will be for all children, except for those of key workers and children who are most vulnerable.”

The Prime Minister said examples of key workers would include police, delivery drivers and NHS staff but more would be identified shortly. Students of these key workers and also vulnerable students should still turn up to their school as normal next Monday.

He said the benefits of schools remaining open were changing swiftly and schools were finding it difficult to continue as normal.

Exams are to be put on hold.

The Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said that closing schools will delay the spread of the virus.

The Prime Minister said that childre should not be left with older grandparents or older relatives as they may be particularly vulnerable to the virus.

Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer added the aim of this decision was to reduce the social impact across society.

In response to the statement by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson about COVID-19 and school closures, Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said:

“Difficult decisions are having to be made each day and people’s safety must always come first. Today’s announcement on school closures feels necessary, but of course will present challenges for parents and carers.

“Businesses will do all they can to help their employees in these unprecedented times. Companies will make every effort to offer flexible working, but many parents simply won’t be able to do their jobs and care for their children at the same time. With so many businesses already struggling with cashflow, government will urgently need to step in with additional support to employees who are unable to work because of school closures.”

Coronavirus

West Sussex refuses to support Crawley schools decision of NOT fining parents for keeping children absent

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September seems to creeping ever closer and with it comes the supposed return to school for children across the town.

But with the news that parents ‘must’ send their children back to school come the start of the new school year, also came the news that one head in paticular had gone on record to say he would not fine any parent who kept their child at home.

Head of St Wilfrid’s Michael Ferry was interviewed on breakfast television where he stated that he would not fine a parent. This then led to a whole debate about who was right and what the right decision should be.

Now West Sussex County Council has added to this furore by refusing to support a decision to not fine a parent made by any head teacher or school in Crawley.

In a statement a West Sussex County Council Spokesperson said:

“We welcome the plan for all children to return to the classroom in September after, what has been for many, a lengthy absence.

“We recognise that some children may be anxious about returning to school and will work closely with our schools to help them prepare children and build the confidence of parents  and carers in the plans for a safe and managed return.

“We will continue to work with schools to engage with and support parents and carers in getting their children back into school before considering issuing penalties for poor attendance. Issuing fines for non-attendance is always a last resort.”

The lack of apparent support from the county council shows an ever growing divide on decisions being made around the ongoing problems with the coronavirus.

Responding to the comments from West Sussex, Michael Ferry said:

“The guidance allows head teachers as far as they can to make local decisions to meet the needs of their school communities.  If one of those decisions happens to be that we are not going to fine people for something that isn’t their fault then I would expect the local authority to support the headteachers in doing so.

If only 10% turn up when we reopen then I would say I have failed because I have not got across the message about what measures we are taking to protect our students.”

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