Coronavirus outbreak could see schools forced to delay GCSE exams

Coronavirus outbreak could see schools forced to delay GCSE and A-Level exams, councils stop weekly bin collections and ‘low risk’ prisoners released from jail

  • Exam boards are preparing to delay key tests amid fears of an epidemic this year
  • An outbreak could also cause the release of thousands of ‘low risk’ prisoners
  • And care homes have been advised to go into lockdown in an outbreak 

Britain’s third coronavirus patient died from the disease last night as the UK reported its biggest daily jump in cases yet.

The male patient, aged over 60, died at the specialist unit for infectious diseases in North Manchester General Hospital. 

Health chiefs said the man, who had recently returned from Italy, had ‘significant underlying health conditions’. 

A further 69 people were diagnosed with the virus on Sunday, bringing the nation’s total cases to 278.

Health chiefs also came under pressure as questions were asked about how so-called enhanced checks on people flying into the UK from affected countries were working.

A woman was pictured wearing a face mask as she attends a protest in central London today

And pictures of cleared supermarket shelves were shared on social media as Britons rushed to buy essentials prompted by fears of a coronavirus outbreak.

As concerns as to how the virus may affected daily life intensified, it was confirmed that: 


Exam boards are drawing up plans to delay GCSEs and A-levels amid fears the epidemic will be at its height as exam season starts.

The boards are planning for a ‘range of scenarios’, working with regulator Ofqual to prepare for rule changes in case pupils are forced to miss lessons or assessments.

Any who underperform due to fallout from the virus will be awarded ‘special consideration’ grades, while those unable to make an exam will be graded based on previous performance.

Ofqual said: ‘We recognise that students, parents, schools and colleges will be concerned about the possible impact of coronavirus on the 2020 summer exam series. 

‘Our advice at this time is to continue to prepare for exams and other assessments as normal.’ Universities are also drawing up coronavirus plans, including lowering grade requirements for affected A-level pupils.

Admissions body UCAS is considering pushing back deadlines for university applications if exams have to be delayed.

Exam boards are reportedly drawing up plans to delay GCSEs and A-levels (stock)


The coronavirus outbreak could see thousands of ‘low risk’ prisoners released due staff shortages in jails.

A Ministry of Justice blueprint reveals proposals to relieve pressure on the system if significant members of staff become ill or are placed in isolation, according to the Sunday Times. 

A senior source said: ‘You can shut a school down but you can’t just shut down a prison. Prisoners need to be looked after. They require basic food and provisions. 

‘Running the present system would become impossible if 50 per cent of the staff have fallen ill.’


Care homes have been advised to go into lockdown in the event of a major coronavirus outbreak, with visitors banned and sick patients confined to their bedrooms.

Guidance has been issued to prevent the virus from spreading among the vulnerable and elderly. Health chiefs have urged relatives not to visit care homes if they are suffering from cold or flu-like symptoms.

Care Provider Alliance, the industry body representing adults social care providers in England, says patients should be kept in their bedrooms if a resident is diagnosed.

Their guidance also advises care providers to consider restricting visits from all relatives until the outbreak is over and refuse to admit any more clients.

Thousands of ‘low risk’ prisoners could be released in a coronavirus outbreak in the UK (stock)


Councils are said to be preparing to stop weekly bin collections if they are forced to prioritise services. 

A senior Whitehall source said local authorities may have to ‘prioritise certain routes or areas’ such as main roads of the high street. 

Ian Hudspeth, of the Local Government Association, said: ‘A widespread epidemic across the country would inevitably have an impact on the wide range of services councils provide and communities rely on.’


Those most worried about the outbreak’s impact are sole traders and hospitality and leisure firms such as restaurants, cafes and hotels, according to a survey.

They fear the crisis will cause a drop in tourist visitors and make Britons more reluctant to venture out to public spaces.

About 52 per cent of businesses think their incomes will fall over the next quarter, the survey by digital lender Tide said. Among sole traders, the number was 59 per cent. The figure jumped to 69 per among hospitality firms.

Bin collections may also be disrupted by an outbreak of coronavirus in the UK (stock)

It has prompted calls for the Government to provide financial relief to the worst-hit, including shops and restaurants.

Oliver Prill, of Tide, said: ‘Confidence is currently very low. The impact of Brexit is a concern for many SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), and the coronavirus crisis is yet another issue.

‘Tide sees that there is a real need for the Government to invest in our entrepreneurs and SMEs, and hopes to see this reflected in the Budget.’

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