Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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What the Petitions Committee is doing

Petition Close Schools/Colleges down for an appropriate amount of time amidst COVID19.

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.

More details

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 Corona-virus. 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.

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Parliament considers all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures for a debate

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Government responded

This response was given on 30 March 2020

Schools closed by the end of the day on Friday 20 March. Affecting schools, colleges, and early years settings in England, except for children of critical workers and the most vulnerable children.

Read the response in full

The first aim of the school closure measures set out by the Secretary of State for Education is to reduce the number of children moving around local areas as far as possible, in order to further reduce the number of social interactions and thus flatten the upward curve of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The second aim is to continue to care for children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response, so that they can continue to work. This includes those who work in the health and social care sectors as well as those critical to continuing to provide essential services such as transport, food and delivery, utilities, communications and public safety.

In addition to this, schools will continue to care for the most vulnerable children. Vulnerable children include those who have 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.

Children who do not fall into these groups have been advised to stay at home with appropriate care to limit the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

The DfE is working closely with colleagues across Government to ensure that all appropriate arrangements, and support, are in place for all DfE sectors – from early years and childcare to schools and children’s social care. The DfE is also in regular discussions with sector bodies and unions, and we will continue to work together on current and emerging issues. We will ensure students, parents and staff are kept up to date.

The advice from Public Health England is that it remains safe for small numbers of children and staff to attend schools, colleges and childcare settings. Decisions on future advice to schools will be taken based on the latest and best scientific evidence.

Department for Education.

Other parliamentary business

Tell us what you want to know about the Government's response to coronavirus?

As the result of the large numbers of petitions and signatures we've received on coronavirus, we will be putting your concerns and questions directly to the Government at an evidence session (a question and answer session with representatives from the Government) in the coming days.

Tell us what question(s) you'd like us to the ask the Government and experts in this short survey: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/petitionscommittee/

We'll email you again to let you know more about the session, including when it's going to happen, who'll be taking part and how you can watch it live.

We will also email you a link to the video and a transcript of the session afterwards.

Who are we?

We are the House of Commons Petitions Committee. We are a cross-party group of MPs that looks at e-petitions submitted on petition.parliament.uk. We are independent from Government. You can find out more about us and our work on our website: http://www.parliament.uk/petitions-committee/role

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @HoCpetitions

Petitions Committee questions Government on its response to coronavirus

Last week the Petitions Committee put some of the most popular questions from the public about coronavirus to the Government Minister for Schools, the Minister for Disabled People and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. These included:

  • How long will schools be closed for and what will the impact be on exams and grades?
  • What financial support will be available for the self-employed?
  • What financial support will be offered to people who are unable to pay their rent or bills due to self-isolation or loss of work?
  • What support will be offered to the events, creative and hospitality industries now that pubs, clubs and cultural venues have been closed?
  • What clear, practical steps can people take to make sure they are following Government guidance on social distancing, household isolation and self-isolation?
  • Who is being tested and why, and will tests be made freely available to everyone?
  • What is the Government doing to ensure that everyone is getting the right information?

Watch the session on YouTube: https://youtu.be/aPLXJcZEfi8

Read the transcript: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/192/the-governments-response-to-coronavirus/publications/written-evidence/

Because of the large number of petitions that we continue to receive on coronavirus we have sent more questions to the Government to answer.

Read our letters to different Government Ministers: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/publications/3/correspondence/

Some of the questions we’ve asked include:

  • When will testing capacity will be increased; who will testing be available for and will it be free?
  • What is being done to tackle the spread of disinformation?
  • How quickly will support for self-employed people be made available?
  • What will happen to the school year? Will summer holidays be cancelled so that children can catch up?
  • How are foodbanks being supported to continue operating during the outbreak?
  • What is being done to address panic buying and prevent price hikes of key items?
  • Will trains, buses and flights continue to operate? For how long?

We’ll email you again to let you know when we get a response to these questions, and to let you know about any more action the Committee takes.

Who are we?

We are the House of Commons Petitions Committee. We are a cross-party group of MPs that looks at e-petitions submitted on petition.parliament.uk. We are independent from Government. You can find out more about us and our work on our website.

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @HoCpetitions.

Further information

You can read impartial House of Commons Library information about coronavirus here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/coronavirus/

You can find out more about coronavirus and how you can protect yourself and others here:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

You can read NHS tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-anxiety-tips

Government announces school closures

On Wednesday 18 March the Government announced that schools and other educational settings will close from Friday 20 March until further notice. This is for all children except those of key workers and vulnerable children.

You can read the statement here:
https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2020-03-18/debates/FCD4DEB2-86A8-4F95-8EB8-D0EF4C752D7D/EducationalSettings

You can watch the statement here:
https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/b4bb9e13-abb9-43ef-ab22-ef917055fb1a?in=17:16:37
 
Responding to the announcement, Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee, said:

“In recent weeks almost one million people have signed parliamentary petitions calling on the Government to close schools, colleges and universities in response to the Coronavirus. The Petitions Committee welcomes the Government’s announcement this afternoon to start taking action on this by closing schools, and recognises this is in response to both the scientific evidence and the concerns of people across the country.

“The Petitions Committee will be questioning Ministers and Government officials on Wednesday (25 March 2020) on what this now means for teachers, students and families in the long term, as our nation continues to adapt and tackle this unprecedented pandemic.

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