In response, Boris Johnson has ruled that UK schools are to shut from Friday until further notice in response to the pandemic. This includes nurseries and private schools, and the PM has stated that exams will not take place in May and June.
“The objective is to slow the spread of the virus and we judge it is the right moment to do that,” the prime minister said at his daily coronavirus press briefing.
“But of course, as I’ve always said, we also need to keep the NHS going and to treat the number of rising cases. So we need health workers who are also parents to continue to go to work.
“And we need other critical workers with children to keep doing their jobs too – from police officers who are keeping us safe to the supermarket delivery drivers, social care workers who look after the elderly and who are so vital…. so we therefore need schools to make provision for the children of these key workers who would otherwise be forced to stay home. And they will also need to look after the most vulnerable children.”
The PM promised that the government is “making provisions to supply meals and vouchers for children eligible for free school meals”.
Shortly after the announcement, social media was flooded with messages from teachers – all of which used the hashtag #bettertogether.
“While the world begins homeschooling/remotely/digitally educating our kids, if you need assistance with understanding something that has been assigned for your child just give me a shout,” reads one such message.
“I am a teacher and will be happy to answer questions. If I don’t know the answer, I can find someone who does!”
Another read: “If you are homeschooling/remotely/digitally educating your kids, if you need assistance with understanding something that has been assigned for your child, or if you need more resources or ideas just give me a shout.
“I am a teacher. I’ll be happy to answer questions. We’re all in it together!”
One more promised: “I will try my best to help as much as I can and I am happy to answer questions (to the best of my ability) both academically and technical. We’ll be ok!”
And still one more said: “I’m in my final year of training as a primary school teacher and I’ll be more than happy to answer questions. And I’m happy to have a go with helping with anything. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll try to find someone who does.
“Just ask! We all have to work together and help each other out in times like these.”
It was a beautiful example of what we already know: that teachers don’t just face the responsibility of honing the minds of children or teenagers, giving them the intellectual tools they need to go out into the world, but they also work tirelessly to support their pupils’ emotional and mental wellbeing.
Much like NHS staff, supermarket employees, social care workers, police, waste collectors, and those working in public transport, teachers have proven themselves to be utterly invaluable in the coronavirus pandemic. The unsung heroes of Covid-19.
Why? Because, unlike so many of us, they haven’t been able to work from home. Instead, they’ve put themselves on the frontline and continued doing their jobs to the absolute best of their ability – and kept things running as smoothly as they possibly can.
Remember: some teachers will still be going into schools to oversee free school meals, to teach and support the children of critical workers. Others have volunteered their services online, to ensure that parents and carers have someone to turn to when lesson planning. They are, even now, seeking to give children purpose and set them up for success as citizens of the world.
And, in doing so, they have 100% proven that we are #bettertogether.
Main image: Agence Olloweb on Unsplash