Schools reopening next month is ‘top priority’ for Welsh Government
The re-opening of schools and colleges in Wales from next month is the “top priority” for the Welsh Government, the First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.
Students across Wales haven’t had access to regular face to face teaching and classes since education facilities were closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Online classes and teaching were available throughout the remainder of the academic year.
However there have been concerns raised over the long-term impact school closures will have on children, particularly those who are unable to access the online teaching and are in receipt of free school meals.
In June, the Welsh Government unveiled plans for all children to have the opportunity to “check in and catch up” across four weeks before the start of the summer holidays.
But in many parts of North Wales, this idea was rejected by local councils who directed schools to open for just three weeks.
From the start of September all children are expected to return to school and college for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Speaking at Friday’s Welsh Government press conference, First Minister Mark Drakeford said the re-opening of schools is the “priority” and that “most of the headroom we have is being devoted to ensuring that schools of staff and students can make a successful and safe return.”
He added that re-opening of schools remains a “top priority” going into the autumn.
Asked by BBC Wales how much confidence parents can have that the re-opening of schools will go according to plan after the chaos over A Level results, Mr Drakeford said: “I think parents and pupils in Wales can have confidence that schools in Wales will re-open successfully from September.
“We are unique in the United Kingdom in having that experience from June and July where schools actually opened very successfully all schools in Wales be open to all pupils in Wales were able to attend and we have learned a great deal from that
“I visited a school here in Cardiff earlier this week where the head teacher told me of the lessons that they learned from that experience, how they are applying them for the reopening in September.”
“We are in close touch with colleagues in Scotland, where schools have already returned and whether there are things that we can learn from them, too.
“And by using the headroom we have in the next three weeks cycle, primarily for the purpose of re-opening schools, I think demonstrates that we are putting the successful and safe reopening of schools right at the very top of our agenda.”
Guidance on the re-opening of schools has recently been released by the Welsh Government, includes a series of measures which schools and educational settings are expected to take wherever possible.
This includes enhanced cleaning, ensuring rooms are well ventilated where possible, encouraging frequent hand washing, minimising contact between all individuals wherever possible and making sure that a staff member or student isolates if they, a member of their household, or contact shows symptoms.
You can view the full briefing, along with the Q&A, via the below video:
Yn fyw nawr gyda Prif Weinidog Cymru, Mark Drakeford | Live now with First Minister, Mark Drakeford https://t.co/d45VYSmREq
— Welsh Government #KeepWalesSafe (@WelshGovernment) August 21, 2020
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