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Coronavirus: Easter holiday could be extended by two weeks in fight against pandemic

Schools could be closed for a month during Easter (Picture: Getty)

Schools in the UK could be closed for an extra two weeks over Easter to help stop the spread of coronavirus, an education association has said. 

The holiday, which begins in April, should be extended to help deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, the Association of School & College Leaders (ASCL) argued. 

ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton told the Telegraph: "Undoubtedly, there have already been discussions about it.

"Parents will already have plans of one type or another for what they are doing with their children over Easter.

"In some ways it becomes less disruptive if it were just part of a kind of elongated planned holiday."

Headteachers will meet with ministers on Monday regarding emergency plans for schools. 

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Meanwhile, the largest education union in Europe has written to the prime minister asking for full disclosure over his decision not to shut schools immediately amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Teachers and staff are increasingly asking why the Government is not closing schools in the same way as other countries, particularly now plans are underway to ban mass gatherings, the letter from the National Education Union (NEU) says.

A tourist wears a face mask next to a souvenir stall on Westminster Bridge (Picture: Getty)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday school closures could do “more harm than good”, hours after Ireland announced that schools and colleges would close for a fortnight.

The letter from the NEU to Johnson says:  “It is very important that we understand what the increased rate of infection is for staff and parents if schools remain open, including obviously for those with underlying health conditions themselves, or for those they care for.”

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The letter, from the union’s joint general secretaries Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, added: “We know you’ve expressed concerns about children not in school being cared for by vulnerable elderly grandparents, or by NHS staff who would then not be available for work.

“However, we would suggest that parents and schools would be able to work together to find solutions to that – and we would like to know if you have any modelling of such societal responses.”

Read more: Italians sing from their homes while living under coronavirus lockdown

Northern Ireland’s administration has not introduced the same measures as the Republic of Ireland, but Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said schools should be shut.

Stormont Education Minister Peter Weir has insisted it remains the wrong time to close schools in Northern Ireland after the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, wrote to urge him to consider closures.

Ten more patients have died in England after testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the coronavirus death toll to 21 in the UK.

On Friday, the number of positive cases was 798 and there was a death toll of 11.

Globally, more than 145,000 cases have been confirmed, with Johns Hopkins University in the US tracking 71,000 recoveries and more than 5,000 deaths.