Schools to close over coronavirus with skeleton staff teaching kids

Schools in the UK will be closed in the coming weeks to combat the coronavirus, according to reports.

Boris Johnson's government has been criticised for not closing down schools and universities as other countries have done to halt the spread of the virus, including Ireland and Spain.

Officials said there were concerns about children being looked after by vulnerable elderly grandparents or that NHS workers would be unable to work because of childcare duties.

But ITV reports there are now plans for a temporary closure of selected schools with some staff staying on to teach the children of public service workers.

Among a raft of emergency measures to be introduced is "the closure of schools for perhaps a few weeks, but with skeleton staff kept on to provide childcare for key workers in the NHS and police", political editor Robert Peston claimed.

The Prime Minister had earlier claimed shutting down schools would do "more harm than good", which earned him a stinging letter from the largest education union in Europe.

It's unknown which schools will be closed.

Other methods of reducing crowds in which the virus can spread include the temporary closure of pubs, bars and restaurants.

These measures will come into effect sometime after next weekend along with a general ban on mass gatherings.

Other measures include hotels and other buildings being repurposed as makeshift hospitals, private hospitals being requisitioned as emergency hospitals and the manufacturing of respirators for the acutely ill.

All Brits over 70 will soon be required by law to self-isolate for four months even if they have no symptoms, in a "wartime-style" mobilisation effort likely to begin in the next five to 20 days.

"According to a senior government source, the perception that ministers are reluctant to make difficult and costly decisions to battle the virus is wrong," Peston says.

"It is simply that the chief medical officer Chris Whitty and the chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance are waiting for the optimal time to force restrictions on our way of life that will be very painful."

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