Posted: Tue 28th Apr 2020

Once lockdown restrictions are lifted schools won’t immediately return to full operating capacity

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Apr 28th, 2020

Schools will not return to full capacity following the easing of lockdown measures in Wales, Education Minister Kirsty Williams has said.

Ahead of her appearance at the Children, Young People and Education Committee today, Kirsty Williams has set out plans on how children will return to school once lockdown restrictions are eased. 

The Easter break was bought forward with schools across Wales closing on 20 March 2020.

Some schools have remained open to children who are vulnerable and children of key workers who cannot be cared for at home.

Flintshire Council adopted a hub approach for the emergency provision rather than opening all schools, 12 hubs are made up of 22 primary, secondary and special school, close to major traffic routes in both urban and rural areas with be in operation. 

The Education Minister says school provision “will gradually adapt and extend further during the next phase” in line with changes to the current restrictions outlined by the First Minister last week.

Schools won’t return to operating at full capacity, instead, a phased approach will be adopted, “schools won’t open for all pupils, from all years, all week” the minister has said. 

The First Minister published a framework with seven key questions to help lead Wales out of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Education Minister will set out five guiding principles which will determine when and how schools will return to providing education for most school pupils:

  1. The safety and mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of students and staff
  2. Continuing contribution to the national effort and strategy to fight the spread of COVID-19
  3. Having the confidence of parents, staff and students – based on evidence and information – so that they can plan ahead
  4. Ability to prioritise learners at key points, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds
  5. Consistency with the Welsh Government’s framework for decision making, to have guidance in place to support measures such as distancing, managing attendance and wider protective actions.

Kirsty Williams said:

“Our latest understanding of the rate of transmission of COVID-19 allows us to be hopeful, but still requires us to be cautious.

It is vital that parents, staff and students have confidence in returning to school. We will only enter the next phase when the evidence and advice suggests that it is the right thing to do.

I will communicate any decision to change the operation of schools well in advance of any required action, allowing school staff, pupils and parents to plan ahead.

Schools will not immediately return to operating at full capacity. It will be a phased approach and I do not expect schools will suddenly open for all pupils, from all years, all week.

The ongoing challenge of COVID-19 means we will prepare schools for a range of scenarios for the foreseeable future. However unlikely, we must prepare for an eventuality that requires schools to reduce operations at specific future points.

I would like to thank the all those working hard to ensure that schools and hubs are able to provide support for those who need it. As I have said previously, our teachers, support staff and childcare workers have proved themselves to be national heroes.”

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