Schools in England will shut on Friday as the government ramps up measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Announcing the closures in parliament yesterday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said exceptions would be made for the children of key workers and children who are most vulnerable.

The scientific advice shows that the settings are safe for this small number of children attending, he said.

But asking others to stay away will just go towards helping us slow the spread of this virus.

The government has not yet released a full list of the jobs that will count as key workers.

However, it said NHS staff, police and supermarket delivery drivers are examples of the sorts of jobs that will be covered.

Anybody who works in those three areas will therefore definitely still be able to send their children to school if they need to and other jobs are likely to be added to the list.

The term key workers is most regularly used in the UK to refer to crucial public sector employees who would struggle to afford housing in the area they work.

The exact list of jobs varies according to the local authority but it usually includes the several of the following roles:

  • Clinical National Health Service staff
  • Teachers and nursery nurses
  • Police officers, community support officers and some civilian police staff
  • Prison officers and some other prison staff
  • Probation Service staff
  • Social workers, educational psychologists and therapists
  • Local authority planners
  • Firefighters
  • Connexions personal advisers
  • Some Ministry of Defence personnel
  • Environmental health officers
  • Highways England traffic officers

During the current pandemic other private sector roles are also likely to be added to the list, as are people employed in the armed forces.

The boss of one major railway company told Sky News political correspondent Joe Pike that it was crucial that railway staff also counted as key workers.

Otherwise he said the network would struggle to keep services running for NHS workers who commute and to transport vital freight.

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The parents of vulnerable children will also be allowed to continue sending their children to school.

The government says this group will 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.

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(c) Sky News 2020: Coronavirus: Who are the key workers who can still send their children to school?