Classroom face mask rules to be scrapped when schools in Wales return in September
The routine use of face coverings in classrooms for staff and children will no longer be recommended when schools return in September, the Welsh government has said.
Schools will still be able to encourage the use of face coverings where more social mixing is likely, such as in communal areas.
Education minister Jeremy Miles has also said contact groups will no longer be required for school pupils or full-time learners in colleges when they return next term.
Instead, the contact tracing system in Wales will be used to identify close contacts of learners who have tested positive.
It means whole years groups won’t be told to self-isolate when a pupil has tested positive for Covid.
Over 3,000 school children have been self-isolating in Flintshire this week following positive coronavirus cases identified amongst pupils.
Entire year groups in schools across the county are having to self-isolate which is causing further disruption to pupils’ education.
Education Minister Jeremy Miles has today written to all headteachers and principals in Wales to provide “more clarity on how schools and colleges can continue to operate safely when they return in September.”
“As we continue to monitor covid case rates across Wales, and how they relate to hospital admissions, the success of our vaccine programme gives us cause to be optimistic about the future. As restrictions are eased across wider society, so too should educational settings see a similar pattern.” He said.
He also confirmed that normal session times will resume when the autumn term begins.
Testing will continue to play a part in supporting schools and settings in the autumn to quickly identify and isolate infected individuals.
School staff, secondary age pupils and college staff and learners will be encouraged to undertake Lateral Flow Tests just before the start of term.
The Minister said: “By the end of September all adults in Wales will have been offered both vaccinations, providing greater protection for our education workforce. A growing body of evidence also shows that children and young people are more at harm from missing school than from covid.
“Lots of young people I have spoken to have said that they don’t believe the current system is proportionate. They just want to be treated the same as everyone else – and that sounds fair to me.”
The Welsh government will publish ‘The Local Covid-19 Infection Control Decision Framework’ at the start of the autumn term so that schools have time to embed new systems during the weeks that follow.
The framework will enable schools and colleges to tailor some of the interventions to reflect the level of risk identified locally.
They will be supported by public health officials and local authorities to ensure measures are appropriate to their circumstances.
The Minister added: “Before you embark on a well-earned break this summer I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for all your hard work and effort over the last academic year.”
“I hope the break will offer you, and your staff, a chance to look back over the last year with immense pride – you have shown immeasurable determination and resilience in supporting learning and keeping education settings as covid-secure as possible.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com