School in Wales will close by Friday and school and nurseries in Scotland will “likely” close by the end of the week amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Education minister Kirsty Williams said schools in Wales will close by March 20 at the latest.
While Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said schools will “likely” close by the end of the week and parents should assume they will remain closed until the summer holidays.
“People should not assume they will reopen after the Easter break,” Ms Sturgeon added.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I want to be as open and transparent as possible.
“My view is that it is now inevitable that we will close schools and nurseries.
“My planning assumption now is schools will close to pupils at the end of this week and I wanted today to give parents notice of that now.”
She said that schools have lost too many staff to continue as normal and that the government is still working out the finer detail of “what this will all mean”.
Pressure will now be on England to follow suit to stop the spread of the disease further.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a decision on school closure was “imminent’ during PMQs on Wednesday.
“The house should expect further decisions to be made imminently on schools and how to make sure we square the circle, both of making sure we stop the spread of the disease but also making sure we relieve as much as we can, pressure on our NHS,” Mr Johnson added.
Ms Williams said in a statement from next week schools will have “a new purpose”.
“They will help support those most in need, including people involved in the immediate response to the coronavirus outbreak,” Ms Williams added.
She said the government “will seek to clarify with urgency” about upcoming exams.
The Welsh director of teachers union NAHT Cymru Laura Doel said it welcomes the decision but “details of how we can support vulnerable children and children of key workers are yet to be finalised”.
“Schools play a pivotal role as part of the social fabric of our communities and we will work with Welsh Government to make sure the support systems are in place to ensure key workers can remain in work”, she said.
“As a union, we will continue to work with Welsh Government to ensure that we all fulfil our civic duty to keep Wales open.”