School leaders in Wales want to know what Covid safety measures will be in place once children they return to class
School leaders in Wales want to know what Covid safety measures will be in when children return to class in September.
New isolation rules for people who have been double jabbed are set to come into force next Saturday.
From August 7, children and young people under 18 will also be exempt from the need to self-isolate if they are also identified as close contacts of a positive case.
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 said last month.
The National Association of Head Teacher (NAHT) Cymru has raised concerns about the removal of mitigation measures “in one go” and has called on the Welsh government to lift them cautiously.
Laura Doel, director of school leaders’ union NAHT Cymru, said: “The Welsh Government’s lifting of the requirement for under-18-year-olds to self-isolate comes at the same time that the Government also plans to remove a host of other Covid-related safety measure affecting school communities.
“Given that Covid rates in schools were rising at the end of the summer term, and most notably in certain areas of Wales, we urge the government to consider with caution the removal of all mitigation measures in one go and to think about what alternative safety measures can be put in place instead, such as better ventilation and a properly functioning test and trace system.
“We continue to be led by the scientific evidence, however, the government should explain its rationale behind apparent contradictions, such as face coverings remaining mandatory at certain indoor events and in retail premises, but not expected to be worn in schools. We also ask the government to explain its decision to remove staggered start and finish times for school days and lunch sittings.
“Each local authority will need to react to local circumstances as they arise, and this may not, in the event, rule out the need to self-isolate. With the possibility that neighbouring schools – and children within the same family – may be under different Covid safety measures, the Welsh Government should reassure those concerned that this will not lead to confusion.
“We all want learners to be able to stay in school and avoid further disruption to their education. However, we ask the Government now to explain its plans for putting other measures in place to protect learners and staff from the start of next term.”
From 7 August, instead of instructing fully-vaccinated adults to isolate, contact tracers and advisers will provide them with advice and guidance about how to protect themselves and stay safe.
Everyone who tests positive for coronavirus or has symptoms must continue to isolate for 10 days, whether they have been vaccinated or not
The contact tracing service will provide a “warn and inform” service for all fully-vaccinated adults and under-18s, who are identified as close contacts.
Some extra safeguards will be put in place for those working with vulnerable people, particularly health and social care staff, including a risk assessment for staff working in health and care and daily lateral flow tests. Members of the public will be strongly advised not to visit hospitals and care homes for 10 days.
Everyone identified as a contact of a positive case will continue to be advised to have a PCR test on day two and day eight, whether they are fully vaccinated or not.
The changes will help ease the pressure on vital services caused by the recent rapid rise in Covid cases, driven by the delta variant over the last two months.