Petition calling for government to consider closing schools ASAP hits 176,000 signatures – enough to trigger a parliamentary debate. The petition is calling on the government to urgently consider closing schools owing to the Coronavirus has attracted enough support to prompt a debate in Parliament.
The petition, started by Sami Attout, states that "growing fears" related to the virus are affecting people's ability to focus or concentrate when in school. The petition had attracted more than 176,000 signatures this morning, surpassing the 100,000 threshold for triggering a parliamentary debate.
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The government confirmed last week that its action plan in tacking the Coronavirus was in the "delay" phase, which could include school closures as part of its "population distancing strategies".
But, the petition states: “We would like the government to at least consider closing schools/colleges down in the coming weeks or as soon as possible, in addition to taking necessary actions to prevent further spread.
“We would like the government or Parliament to enforce this action due to the growing fear among parents and students that attend school.
“The ability to focus or concentrate is affected in addition to the growing fears of the Coronavirus.
"In our view, the government and health officials around the world are more 'reactive' rather than 'proactive'. This will result in more spread as time is given for the virus to do so. We hope to come to an agreement as soon as possible in a timely manner.”
The exam regulator Ofqual has sought to quash speculation that revision timetables could be postponed amid potential school closures, however heads are calling for this years Sats and league tables to be scrapped.
Responding to the petition, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "We understand the concern being expressed by parents who are supporting this petition. However, it is important that we trust the advice of the public health authorities in any decision over school closures.
"This is a rapidly developing situation and schools will respond accordingly to the guidance that is issued."
Countries including Italy, Iran and the UAE have already confirmed nationwide school shutdowns.