Schools across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are to close on Friday because of the coronavirus epidemic.
What will the impact be?
How long are schools likely to be closed?
We don’t yet know. This will depend to a large extend on how effective measures to reduce the spread of the outbreak are.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries said the move was not prompted because children were at any particular risk, but because it was necessary to reduce social contact throughout society.
England’s Education Secretary Gavin Williamson says schools will be closed “until further notice”.
Most schools were due to break up for the Easter holidays in two weeks’ time.
Schools in England, Wales and Scotland will close on Friday afternoon. Schools in Northern Ireland will close from Monday.
So will every school be completely closed?
No. Some schools will be kept open with a skeleton staff to provide support for the children of key workers, such as NHS staff, police and delivery drivers.
They will also be asked to help those most in need – for example, children who receive free school meals.
Teaching unions are supportive of these measures, but say they want see more details of the plans.
What will happen about exams?
In England, all exams in May and June have been cancelled, including GCSEs, A-levels and primary school national curriculum tests known as Sats.
Mr Williamson told the Commons on Wednesday: “I can confirm we will not go ahead with assessments or exams and that we will not be publishing performance tables for this academic year.
“We will work with the sector and [the exams watchdog] Ofqual to ensure children get the qualifications that they need.”
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will make a decision on exams in the days to come.
What does this mean for parents?
For many working parents, the closures will present issues surrounding childcare (this was one of the reasons why the government delayed closures as long as possible).
Some may need to take time off work, raising concerns that some families will struggle financially.
Head teachers have told the BBC that they have been making plans to continue teaching and supporting pupils during the closure, using social media and technologies such as Google Classroom and Maths Watch.
On Tuesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that funding for early years grants would continue to be paid while nurseries or pre-schools are closed and if childminders are unable to work.
Why did government hold out this long over closures?
Until now, the official advice was that schools should stay open, unlike many other countries across Europe where schools were closed earlier on in the outbreak.
The UK’s approach was based on information that children are not as vulnerable to coronavirus as adults.
The government was also concerned that widespread school closures would cause widespread disruption.
And there were concerns that if grandparents – a vulnerable group – were drafted in to help with childcare, infected children could transmit the disease to them.
There have also been concerns that vulnerable children, such as those in danger of neglect, would be at greater risk if schools were closed for a long period of time.
How difficult has this week been for schools?
Head teachers say they have been struggling with the growing number of staff who have taken time off because they are ill, have underlying health conditions or are self-isolating.
Teachers’ unions have said the uncertainty of the current situation was causing “intolerable pressure” for schools.
Chris Keates, from the NASUWT, said “a lack of specific information for schools understandably has created a rising sense of panic”.
Before the closures announcement, the National Education Union said it was advising its members with underlying conditions to stay off work.
Many individual schools had already been closing their doors, or sending certain year groups home.
Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways: