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Exams: it seems they’re not going to happen this year as schools are closing for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.

It took me a while to work it out, but the reason Boris Johnson dragged his heels on school closures should be obvious.

It was a double-edged sword hanging over his head – or so it seems to me, in metaphorical terms.

Yes: children are brilliant at spreading disease. I remember a trip to Lyme Regis, back when I was at junior school; one girl on the coach had chicken pox and was found to have it very soon – but by the end of the week we all had it and one of the teachers spent the following term extremely ill with it.

But send all the children home from school and it means their parents can’t go to work; somebody has to supervise the kids. This is certain to be disastrous for the economy.

And we all know how important it is to Boris Johnson to be seen to be making money.

But the simple fact is that schools were failing to function in any case. Parents were seeing their children showing symptoms and taking the responsible decision to self-isolate – so classrooms were already starting to empty.

I know this because I know a few teachers.

Then the Welsh government made the decision that it was “bringing forward the Easter break“. I understand Scotland went the same way.

That seems to have tipped Johnson’s hand, possibly because appearances are important.

Suppose coronavirus infections – or even deaths – turned out to be much lower in those countries than in England? Johnson would have been shown to have made the wrong decision, and he can’t afford that.

And what will be worst for the economy in the long term – leaving schools open and infecting everybody, or closing them for a short while and then getting everyone back to work after the worst of the pandemic is over?

So all UK schools are closing.

I understand that schools will continue to look after children of “key workers” such as people working in the NHS, and children who would otherwise be staying with people who are considered “vulnerable” to the virus.

At the moment, that seems a sound choice.

But it is deeply disturbing that, again, Boris Johnson’s government had to be pushed into making the right decision.

On his own, it seems he could be worse than useless…

He could be fatal.

Source: Coronavirus: UK schools, colleges and nurseries to close from Friday – BBC News

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