Science rather than ‘arbitrary date’ should dictate when more pupils return to face to face learning in Wales says Union
All primary school children and some secondary school pupils could be back in the classroom from March 15 if Covid cases continue to fall.
As it stands Foundation Phase children, those aged between three and seven will began to return to face to face learning from Monday.
First minister Mark Drakeford said on Friday “As coronavirus cases fall, and our successful vaccination programme protects more people every day, there are reasons to be optimistic.
“Our youngest learners will begin going back to school from 22 February and, if the situation continues to improve over the next three weeks, we hope more primary school children and older students will be able to return from 15 March.
Laura Doel, director of NAHT Cymru, said the Welsh government is right to say that it is considering a return for KS2 and some secondary pupils only “if the public health situation continues to improve. This absolutely has to be the case.”
“We need to be able to assess the impact of the foundation phase return before making any firm commitments.”
She said: “It is important that we continue to be guided by the science rather than getting stuck on one particular arbitrary date. ”
“We all want to see all children back in school as soon as it is safe, but that return has to be sustainable, with a proper plan to minimise continued disruption to children’s education going forward.”
Laura Doel, added: “Schools are already facing significant operational challenges in bringing back foundation phase next week, and more work will need to be done on the advice issued by government to make sure the safety measures schools need to take to welcome back more learners are clear.”
“At the moment, certain aspects of the operational guidance on measures such as bubbles, face covering, social distancing are vague at best.”
“Schools are doing all they can to reassure staff and parents of the measures they are taking to support the wider reopening, but we need to look at the impact of foundation phase return before thinking of extending the onsite provision further.”
“The government will also have to put effort into reassuring families that it is safe to send their children back to school – there is a confidence test the government must pass to make the return a success.”
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