Posted: Fri 8th Jan 2021

Schools in Wales closed until February half term unless Covid cases fall significantly

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jan 8th, 2021

Schools across Wales will not return to face to face teaching until the February half term unless there is a significant fall in Covid cases. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The First Minister Mark Drakeford has said lockdown restrictions will be “strengthened in some key areas” to help prevent the new, highly-infectious strain of the virus spreading from person to person in those shops and workplaces which remain open. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Mr Drakeford said: “The coronavirus pandemic has reached a significant point. Cases in Wales remain very high and our NHS is under real and sustained pressure.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

He said: “The alert level four restrictions we introduced before Christmas must remain in place to keep us all safe. To slow the spread of the virus, we all must stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Unless there is a significant reduction in cases of coronavirus before 29 January – the date of the next three-week review of the regulations – school and college students will continue to learn online until the February half term.” Mr Drakeford said. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Education Minister Kirsty Williams  said: “The coronavirus pandemic has reached a significant point in Wales.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“The first minister will take a press conference this afternoon but before then I wanted to update you on what this means for education.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“As a government, we have decided to bring decision making on schools and colleges into line with our three week review timetable.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“That means that we will next review the situation on January the 29th, remote learning will continue until at least then.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Unless we see a significant reduction in transition before January 29 then remote learning would have to continue until our next review date, which coincides with the February half term.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Vulnerable children and children of critical workers will have access to their usual school or college.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“During this period, we will work together to look at all the possibilities for a phased and safe return of some pupils such as those studying for qualifications, or the youngest children who find distance learning the most difficult.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“We are taking this action today because this new variant is more infectious and is leading to increased numbers of people being hospitalised.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Schools and colleges have been safe and secure environments throughout the pandemic and that continues to be the case.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“However, the latest TAC (Welsh Government technical advisory group) report is clear on education’s contribution.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“We know that school and college settings can contribute to wider social mixing outside the education environment and right now we all have to play our part in suppressing this virus.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“I know these times are hard but please remember that this pandemic will end, our wonderful schools and colleges will soon be filled with the sounds of happy children and learners, as they always were before this cruel virus took hold.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“I cannot wait for that moment and I’m sure that you feel the same but until then it’s more important than ever that we continue to follow the rules and to stay at home. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Teaching union UCAC has welcomed announcement, general secretary Dilwyn Roberts-Young said: “This decision is based on medical evidence, and keeps to the Education Minister’s key principle that ‘evidence and information’ is the only way to secure ‘the confidence of parents, staff and students’. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“This statement will provide schools and colleges with some time to make preparations for their education provision. It will also give parents the opportunity to put arrangements in place, bearing in mind that many school staff will themselves be parents. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“UCAC has committed itself to working at national, regional and local level to ensure that staff and pupils can return to schools and colleges as soon as it is safe to do so.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Qualifications Wales has canceled the spring internal assessment window (due between 22 February and 23 April) for GCSE, AS and A levels. Revised assessment arrangements for the award of these qualifications in summer 2021 will be put in place shortly.  ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Following the First Minister’s announcement that most pupils will continue to learn remotely until 29 January or possibly even February half term, Qualifications Wales is announcing that the spring internal assessment window for GCSE, AS, and A level, which were planned to take place between 22 February and 23 April, will not take place and new arrangements will be made. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Philip Blaker Chief Executive of Qualifications Wales said, “Following the decision that most pupils in schools and colleges will continue to learn remotely, the planned spring internal assessment window will not take place for GCSE, AS and A levels and revised arrangements, adapting the plans previously announced, will be made. We know that learners need clarity about how they will be assessed and there will be clarity on revised arrangements soon.   ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“The Minister’s Design and Delivery Advisory Group will now be considering the way forward and more detailed information about revised arrangements will be made available shortly.’’ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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