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Coronavirus Q&A: How long will schools remain closed and why are they closing?

A mother embraces her daughter while home-schooling
Camilla Turner will be answering your school closure questions Credit: John Moore/Getty Images

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday that schools will close indefinitely at the end of the week for all but the children of key workers and vulnerable youngsters. He also confirmed that GCSE and A-level exams will not go ahead this year. But there are still a lot of unanswered questions: How will pupils get their results? What will happen about university places? What makes a child "vulnerable" and how is a "key worker" being defined?

Our Education Editor, Camilla Turner, was on hand to answer our readers' questions on school closures. Read on for a selection of the best questions. 

What is classed as a key worker?

三级成人视频The Government is due to send out a detailed list to schools of which jobs are meant by the phrase “key workers”. So far, the education secretary has said that this includes anyone who works in a hospital, in a school or in national infrastructure. He also said distribution drivers count as key workers, since they are crucial for getting food to supermarket shelves and to people’s homes

The Government is set to publish more more detailed guidance on the definitions. 

Do children in care come under the vulnerable category?

三级成人视频The Government has said that “vulnerable” children are defined as any child that has a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans – a legal document that describes a child’s special educational needs and the support they require.

Why does this not affect private nurseries?

三级成人视频The Government has ordered state schools to close from Friday, they have also asked private schools and private nurseries to do the same. However, since fee-paying schools and universities are ultimately independent from the Government, they could ignore the advice and stay open.

What will happen to free school meals?

三级成人视频Children that are eligible for free school meals will be offered vouchers, food or meals to make sure they continue receiving this support, even if they are no longer attending school due to the coronavirus outbreak. There are 1.3 million children in England who are eligible for free school meals.

Schools will be able to provide meals or vouchers for supermarkets or local shops, which can be sent directly to families who are either self-isolating at home or whose schools are closed on Government advice.

Will common entrance exams be cancelled?

三级成人视频Private schools have been told to close at the end of the week, along with state schools. I just spoke to Neil Roskilly, chief executive at the Independent Schools Association, who said although no official announcement has been made yet, there is a “firm expectation” that common entrance exams will be cancelled this year.

Will GCSE and A-level exams be postponed? 

No, there is no chance of A-levels and GCSEs being postponed. The Government has confirmed that all exams will be cancelled completely. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, had said that students will be given the grades they deserve, but we are still waiting on the details about how this will be worked out.

He told MPs in the Commons yesterday that this could involve students “rapidly taking a fresh set of exams" in lieu of formal GCSE and A-levels. It could also be based on teacher assessment or predicted grades. The Government will announce details on this tomorrow.

How to ask a question

Leave your questions in the comments section at the bottom of this article ahead of our next Q&A. Alternatively, if you are reading this on the Telegraph app, or don’t have a Telegraph account, you can submit a question by emailing yourstory@telegraph.co.uk. If you would like to remain anonymous, please disclose this when you ask your question. 

*DISCLAIMERNone of the information provided in this Q&A constitutes or is a substitute for medical advice.  If you believe you may have been exposed to the virus or have any other concerns then you should follow government advice.

And... that's a wrap. 

T三级成人视频hank you to everyone for your questions. 

Camilla has also covered the school closures in the latest episode of our coronavirus podcast. Listen here.

'What is classed as a key worker?'

Our final question comes from Vicki via email. Vicki asks:

"What is classed as a key worker please? I’m an admin officer for the child maintenance service and my husband is a banking consultant. Will we be included as a key worker? "

Here's what Camilla has to say:

三级成人视频The Government is due to send out a detailed list to schools of which jobs are meant by the phrase “key workers”. So far, the education secretary has said that this includes anyone who works in a hospital, in a school or in national infrastructure. He also said distribution drivers count as key workers, since they are crucial for getting food to supermarket shelves and to people’s homes. Your husband would not count as a key worker and your job has not yet been specified by the Government as one that would. But the best thing to do is to wait until the Government publishes its more detailed guidance on the definitions. 

'Do children in care come under the vulnerable category?'

This question comes via email from an anonymous 三级成人视频reader. They ask:

"Do children in care come under the ‘vulnerable’ category? My older parents are carers of school-age children, so I believe they should stay off school also. But due to being in care are they classed as vulnerable?"

Here's Camilla's advice:

三级成人视频The Government has said that “vulnerable” children are defined as any child that has a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans – a legal document that describes a child’s special educational needs and the support they require.

'Is OCR still going ahead with exams?'

Our next question comes from Ben Morris in the comments section. Ben asks:

三级成人视频I'm at a private school and I have heard that OCR is still going ahead with their exams for A-level and GCSEs. surely if the secretary of education has stated there will be no exams this academic year then this is fake news?

Here's what Camilla has to say:

Yes this is definitely “fake news”. All GCSE and A-level exams this summer have been cancelled, and this includes OCR exams.

'Why does this not affect private nurseries?'

Naomihas asked a question via email:

Why does this not affect private nurseries? My 3-year-old attends a private day nursery but they have advised they will be open as usual.

Here's Camilla's advice:

三级成人视频The Government has ordered state schools to close from Friday, they have also asked private schools and private nurseries to do the same. However, since fee-paying schools and universities are ultimately independent from the Government, they could ignore the advice and stay open.

'What about single parents with children with underlying conditions?'

Our next question comes from Leah via email:

"I'm unsure of what's going to happen with single parents working as an essential worker (in the NHS) who live alone with their child with an underlying health condition. In this case it's asthma, would you recommend the child still attending school? Or staying with a relative (not grandparents)?"

Here's what Camilla三级成人视频 has to say:

Schools will remain open for children of “key workers” which the Government has said includes people who work for the NHS. This is so people who work in the most crucial jobs for tackling the coronavirus outbreak can go to work, with their children looked after at school. 

In terms of whether children should stay off school if they have asthma, you need to consult the latest NHS guidance online or call NHS 111. also has some great, regularly updated, advice.

'What will happen to free school meals?"

A great question from Chris via email. Chris asks:

"What is the official word on childrens’ free meals in these difficult times?"

Camilla's answer is as follows:

三级成人视频Children that are eligible for free school meals will be offered vouchers, food or meals to make sure they continue receiving this support, even if they are no longer attending school due to the coronavirus outbreak. There are 1.3 million children in England who are eligible for free school meals.

Schools will be able to provide meals or vouchers for supermarkets or local shops, which can be sent directly to families who are either self-isolating at home or whose schools are closed on Government advice.

'What if schools are forced to close for a long period of time?'

Our next question comes from Natasha via email. Natasha asks: 

"What will happen if schools are forced to close for a long period of time, til July or September, for example?  How will schools go about supporting children moving up to the next academic year? Most of them won't be ready not just academically but emotionally it's a big change for them all. Are there plans in place in case this happens?"

Camilla has the following to say:

At the moment, all we know is that schools will be closed at the end of the week, indefinitely. It is too early now to predict when schools will be able to re-open and get back to normal. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, told MPs yesterday that there could well be a “knock on” effect of the school closures and that it could affect the start of future academic years. When the Government has more information about a timeline on when schools can re-open, it is likely that all these kind of things will be taken into consideration.

'Will primary school children repeat the year?'

Jennifer Puci has asked the following question in the comments section:

"What do you think the likelihood is of primary school children repeating the year?"

Here's what Camilla has to say:

The finer details of the longer term impact on school closures have not yet been worked out. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, acknowledged that school closures could well have a “knock on” effect elsewhere, and could impact the start of next academic year. It is possible that - depending on the length of school closures - pupils will be given the option to repeat a year of school. But this depends on how long schools are closed for. If they open again this autumn, children will only have missed one summer term of work which is not such a huge amount.

'What is happening to B-TEC courses?'

A great question from an anonymous三级成人视频 reader about B-TEC courses:

"We know A Level and GCSE exams are being cancelled but what is happening to the B-TEC courses and coursework within them?"

Here's Camilla's advice:

三级成人视频Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, said that all exams and assessments will be cancelled, so this includes B-TECs. So any upcoming coursework or exams for B-TECs and other applied general qualifications will be cancelled. We are expecting another Government announcement on Friday with more details about how grades will be worked out

'Will everyone be given a pass grade?'

Another question about exams, this time from a reader who'd like to remain anonymous. They ask:

"Since exams have been cancelled for this year, will we receive grades based on our mock exams or will everyone be given a pass grade?"

Here's what Camilla三级成人视频 has to say:

三级成人视频The Government is going to announce tomorrow more details on what information will be used to work out grades. So far, we know that the information which will be used to calculate grades could include a mixture of predicted grades, mock exams, and teacher assessment. The Education Secretary has also said that it could  involve students “rapidly taking a fresh set of exams" in lieu of formal GCSE and A-levels.

'I'm going to university this year – what grades will be submitted?'

Our next questions comes from Natalia via email. Natalia asks: 

 "I’m an A-level student going to university this year and I’m wondering what grades will be submitted in for my university as I didn’t have a chance to take my March mock exams now either?"

Here's Camilla's advice:

三级成人视频We are expecting a Government announcement with more detail on Friday about how grades will be worked out in lieu of A-levels. So far, we know that this could involve students “rapidly taking a fresh set of exams" It could also be based on teacher assessment or predicted grades.

'Will common entrance exams be cancelled?'

Another anonymous reader would has asked the following question about common entrance exams: 

"I have a question reading common entrance exams for private schools. In view of the cancellation of all other exams will common entrance also be cancelled?"

Here's Camilla's verdict: 

三级成人视频Private schools have been told to close at the end of the week, along with state schools. I just spoke to Neil Roskilly, chief executive at the Independent Schools Association, who said although no official announcement has been made yet, there is a “firm expectation” that common entrance exams will be cancelled this year.

'Will GCSE and A-level exams be postponed?'

Morning everyone! 

Welcome to our Q&A. Our first question came via email from a reader who'd like to remain anonymous:

"My question is, is there a chance that GCSE and  A-levels will be postponed and go ahead in the summer holidays instead or will there be no written exams at all?"

Here's what Camilla 三级成人视频has to say:

三级成人视频No, there is no chance of A-levels and GCSEs being postponed. The Government has confirmed that all exams will be cancelled completely. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, had said that students will be given the grades they deserve, but we are still waiting on the details about how this will be worked out.

He told MPs in the Commons yesterday that this could involve students “rapidly taking a fresh set of exams" in lieu of formal GCSE and A-levels. It could also be based on teacher assessment or predicted grades. The Government will announce details on this tomorrow.

Q&A starting in 15 minutes

This Q&A will start in 15 minutes. 

Remember to leave your questions for Camilla三级成人视频 in the comments section below or email them to yourstory@telegraph.co.uk. 

See you soon!