In more than one place I have read that people are continuing to pay their cleaners, who will not be providing a service at all in any capacity. Don’t get me wrong, I am heartened by this compassionate take.
Meanwhile I read that people wish to default on fees for a service they continue to receive (albeit in an adjusted form, because there is no alternative), delivered by a staff who are working absolutely flat out in incredibly challenging circumstances. This staff has already provided twice the provision (home learning plus educating those still in school) at a time when most others had been advised to work from home, putting theirs and their family’s health at risk. Some continue to do so voluntarily going into work to provide an education for the children of key workers (no, this isn’t the preserve of the state system alone). They will spend much of their holidays up-skilling themselves to teach in an entirely different way so that next term they can continue to deliver the best possible education that they can. This will be delivered through every means possible - often involving the power of technology - this alone a steep learning curve using technology not usually called for in the classroom. Many companies are offering their services for free during this crisis, but not all, therefore there are associated costs borne by the school. In many cases what the private system has been able to provide already is more sophisticated because some systems, such as virtual learning platforms, were already well integrated and used. This is not the kind of thing that can be installed overnight or at low cost.
Reports of high levels of stress amongst teachers reflect what an incredibly difficult time this is for them, teachers in the Far East who have shared their experience from the last few months report that it is more challenging, more time consuming, more stressful than when working physically in the building.
Meanwhile, the physical building still stands. The insurance needs paying, the planned for essential maintenance will still need doing, albeit at a later date. The administrative staff will still be doing their same roles, just remotely. There will be a few incidental costs cuts which could be made in the short term - food springs to mind - but these are minimal.
A school must be ready to reopen as soon as the government gives the green light. Laying off staff would mean once reopened they would be understaffed and not able to provide the same level of education as they could before the crisis.
If families are struggling to pay, they should approach the school and have a conversation. Defaulting on fees for a service that you continue to receive (albeit in a different form) is breaking an agreed contract and helping no one.
After this is over, assuming you have the means to continue to pay for it, if you want to the option of a private schooling for your children you must continue to pay for the service you are receiving now or there will be simply no choice as that private school you one chose as standing out above all others will quite simply not exist any more.