Schools, colleges and sixth forms have all closed across the UK and GCSEs and A-Level exams have been cancelled.

It was announced last Wednesday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that schools will close from Friday, March 20, to reduce the risk and spread of the dreaded coronavirus.

The Secretary of Education, Gavin Williamson MP, said some schools will remain open with a reduced capacity for children of key workers and the most vulnerable.

READ MORE: Slough Borough Council and volunteer groups become one

Key workers include:

  • Frontline health workers such as doctors and nurses.
  • Some teachers and social workers.
  • Local and national government workers.
  • Journalists and broadcasters who provide public service broadcasting.
  • Police, fire and transport staff.
  • Workers involved in food production such as delivery or supermarket staff.

Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead councillor, Stuart Carroll (Conservative: Boyn Hill), lead member for social services and health, spoke to the Observer to give clarity on what this means to schools and parents across the borough.

Which schools will remain partially open?

Schools will remain open for up to ten per cent of their pupils who are vulnerable or children of key workers. A child needs only one parent to be a key worker for them to attend school.

Cllr Carroll said: “There are a handful of schools in the borough who are doing this for key workers children and children who are at risk or are vulnerable.”

Which teachers will work in these schools and how will it work?

Cllr Carroll said: “It is my current understanding that it will be a rotational basis, but that is something we are still coordinating with the schools.

“A lot of the teachers are offering digital sessions for pupils from home. It’s not a direct substitute, but, of course, we can now use digital technology to our advantage and that’s certainly what a lot of schools are looking at.”

He added: “The response from headteachers and teachers has been exemplarily. There’s been no shortage of people wanting to help or wanting to step up.”

READ MORE: Queen joins the fight against the Corona virus

How will free school meals work?

The government said parents will receive help by providing supermarket or local shop vouchers each week for those children who get free school meals.

Cllr Carroll said: “We are coordinating with central government to pull that through.

“We will be providing grab bag lunches for such pupils and students to make sure they are being serviced appropriately.”

How is the council monitoring the situation for schools?

Cllr Stuart Carroll, lead member for social services and health, said: “We coordinated with all schools and identified every single pupil/student who might need to attend school because they either fall into a vulnerable/risk category or their parents are key workers and need to go to work.

“What we are doing day to day is keeping a very close eye on what the numbers are and what resources we need to put in to assist those small number of schools that have remained open to facilitate the care those children who are vulnerable, at risk or children of key workers.”

What about exams and lessons for children staying at home?

Summer exams have been cancelled across the UK, but many schools have been preparing homework packs and online learning for children at home.

Cllr Carroll said: “Schools are providing materials and digital solutions, so the vast majority of children have fallen into that bracket.

“The Department of Education is working through a system to ensure that qualifications can be administered in accordance with new rules around exams and coursework. Of course, as a Borough, we will play our part in that.

“We will continue to do what we can, during this time, to allow them to keep learning and be educated, but what we got to accept this is going to be difficult for a lot of young people and it will be frustrating for them.

“We have to refocus on where we can help and where we can assist and we’re waiting for Department of Education guidance in terms of next steps.”

READ MORE: Royal Borough cancels future public council meetings

How have pupils responded to this?

Cllr Carroll said: “On the whole, the vast majority of young people understand the situation.

“We have some tremendously bright and capable young people in this borough and understand they got to play their part, be good citizens and follow the health protocols.”

What should residents do if they are concerned about safeguarding?

Contact through the usual channels via the Windsor and Maidenhead local safeguarding children board on 01628 683234 or email