All schools in the UK will close in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson announced in the House of Commons on Wednesday that all schools will close on Friday afternoon "until further notice".
He says updated scientific advice means keeping schools open is no longer in the interests of public safety.
This includes nurseries, boarding schools and colleges. Exams will no longer take place in May and June as planned.
The children of NHS workers and other critical public service employees, such as social care workers, police officers and supermarket delivery drivers, will stay on at school so their parents can continue to work during the pandemic.
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"Vulnerable" students will also remain at school.
A meal voucher system for eligible students will be devised, Williamson said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned parents not to leave children in the care of elderly relatives who are vulnerable to coronavirus.
Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser to the government, says the closure is not because schools are particularly dangerous but because there is an urgent need to "knock down" transmission and protect the most vulnerable.
It follows announcements that schools in Wales and Scotland will close on Friday, and likely won't reopen before the summer holidays.
All schools in Northern Ireland will also be closed with immediate effect, although teachers will continue to go in until Friday.
Teachers had expressed anger over Johnson's reluctance to close schools, with Europe's largest education union demanding he take action in a stinging letter.
Some schools in England have already been forced to partially or fully close as staff and students stay at home.
Headteachers say they were blindsided by the government's announcement on Monday that the British public should avoid non-essential contact with others, and claimed they received almost no advice from the Department for Education about coping with staff shortages or why they need to stay open.
Officials said the reluctance to close schools was out of concern about children being looked after by elderly grandparents or that NHS workers would be unable to work because of childcare duties.
- Boris Johnson
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