Posted: Wed 15th Apr 2020

Schools across Wales will only reopen “when safe to do so” – with warnings that it will ‘not be business as usual’

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Apr 15th, 2020

Schools in Wales will only reopen when the “science and evidence says it is safe to do so”, with warning to parents and guardians that it will not be an immediate return to normality.

Schools in Wales have been closed for statutory provision of education since the end of March, only remaining open to provide childcare provision for key workers and for vulnerable children.

This has included the Easter holidays, with 430 settings caring for approximately 2700 children attending daily during the first week of the school break. Around 680 children also attended the school settings on Good Friday and Easter Monday.

As other countries look to begin to start relaxing their lockdowns, there has been speculation that schools could be amongst the first to reopen and that a such decision could be made in the next few weeks.

However parents and guardians have been warned that it will not be a return to normal when lockdown restrictions are lifted and that such changes will not be taking place in the near future.

Speaking at this afternoon’s Welsh Government press conference, Education Minister Kirsty Williams said that schools for statutory purposes will only reopen when it’s safe for children and staff.

Responding to a question about schools opening before the end of summer term, the Minister said: “I really don’t think it’s helpful for people to speculate.”

“But what I can tell people is we are doing the work necessary so that when we are given advice from our chief medical officer and chief scientific officer that it is safe to do and in the ways say it may be safe to take our children to school, that we we will be in a position to put that plan and advice into practise in our classrooms.

“Some of the things we would need to take into consideration is the availability of the workforce. Do we have the teachers who can come back to the classroom? There may well be teachers who prior to the closure that had to remove themselves from the classroom due to their own health conditions.”

She added: “It is quite clear to me when schools reopen, it won’t be business as usual. The scientific advice is very clear in terms of the continuation of social distancing.”

“So whats the practicalities of operating that in a school. We maybe in a situation where we can have part of the school cohort going back. If we look at some other countries in Europe it’s just the youngest children, those we would see in our primary schools.

“We’re doing the planning here in Wales, we’re watching very carefully the experience in other countries.

“Schools will only reopen for statutory purposes when it is safe to do so. Safe for our staff and safe for our children.

“Even when they do reopen, I don’t think we should expect it to be business as usual. It is my understanding is social distancing will continue for some time and that poses some practical challenges in terms of school transport and parents at the school gates.”

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