Posted: Wed 15th Dec 2021

Teaching union calls for staggered return to schools in Wales ahead of the new year

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Dec 15th, 2021


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A teachers’ union has called for a staggered return to schools in Wales after the Christmas break.

The NASUWT is urging the Welsh Government to “act immediately and to not delay critical decisions until the commencement of the school and college holiday period.”

The union said it notes with the utmost concern a statement by the First Minister on 12 December that Omicron is “a fast-moving form of Coronavirus which has the potential to cause a large wave of infections in Wales.”

Flintshire council has already announced an early end to face-to-face learning for schools in the county with a move to blended learning for the final three days of the term next week.

Claire Homard, Chief Officer for Education and Youth said the decision – which has the backing of head teachers – will allow staff to use a blended approach to deliver education, “whilst also providing head teachers with the discretion to invite groups of learners to attend school for face-to-face learning where required particularly in examination year groups in secondary schools.”

Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT is calling for additional measures to slow the spread of COVID 19 to be considered in schools

In a letter to Wales’ Education Minister Jeremey Miles, Dr Roach said: “In light of the evidence emerging daily regarding the impact of the Omicron variant the latest modelling which suggests that case numbers hospitalisations and deaths will continue to increase throughout January, and the raising of the Covid threat level to Level 4.

I must urge you now to consider the immediate introduction of additional education measures to help slow the spread of Covid-19 and to minimise further disruption to education.”

He said: “In addition to wider community-level measures we believe that additional measures will be required within schools and colleges now and as they return after the Christmas break.

The forecast scientific trajectory for the Omicron variant has worsened significantly since the end of November, and available evidence strongly points to the need for additional control measures to be in place now and through the start of next term.”

Dr Roach said: “We ask you to avoid a repeat of the confusion and chaos which last year impacted negatively on public and parental confidence and hampered the hard work of teachers and school and college leaders in their preparations at the start of 2021.”

“An immediate announcement from the Welsh Government on additional measures for schools and colleges we believe is essential before the majority of schools and colleges close for the Christmas break.”

“Such additional measures we would ask you to consider would include staggering the return of pupils to all schools and colleges at the start of January 2022.”

The union is requesting that additional onsite testing be provided throughout the period between January and the February 2022 half-term.

It has also demanded further guidance for schools in light of the Omicron variant and the postponement of non-essential events to be moved online.

“The NASUWT believes that these measures together with wider Welsh Government measures including on vaccinations are proportionate and responsible and will contribute to our shared aim of minimising further disruption to children’s education.”

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