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January 2022 return for schools in Wales: Two planning days to implement changes to Covid guidance announced

Laura Doel, Director of NAHT Cymru

@CymruNAHT comment on changes to January return for schools in Wales

Commenting as Welsh Government announce that schools will be given two planning days in January to implement changes to Covid guidance and mitigation arrangements, Laura Doel, Director of NAHT Cymru, said:

“We welcome the changes announced today on planning days and the relaxation of sessions times.

“Schools have suffered significantly from staff absence since September and, given that the new variant is even more transmissible, we can be certain that Covid will continue to impact on staffing levels. School settings cannot stay open and remote learning cannot be supported if the workforce is unavailable. That is why we urge the Welsh Government to introduce additional mitigation measures, like staggering session times to control the flow of learners and parents coming in and out of school, at the start of next term.

“No-one wants further mitigations in schools, but the continuation of education is a priority. NAHT Cymru has pledged to work with the government, and discussions will continue over the Christmas and New Year period to respond to the rapidly changing situation. But it is essential that school staff have a break over Christmas and we are pleased to see the government has recognised that by giving schools some time at the beginning of term to make any changes.”

Written statement from the Welsh Government on the return to school and college arrangements Jan 2021

4th Jan 2021: Kirsty Williams MS, Minister for Education in Wales’ (@wgmin_education) statement about the return of schools and colleges in Wales:

The situation in Wales and across the UK remains very serious. Today, the four UK Chief Medical Officers have agreed that the UK is now at the highest level of risk, Joint Biosecurity Council level 5.

In the light of that decision the Welsh Government, in consultation with the WLGA and Colegau Cymru, has agreed that all schools, colleges and independent schools should move to online learning until January 18th 2021.

As a government we will use the next two weeks to continue to work with local authorities, schools and colleges to plan for the rest of term.

This is the best way to ensure that parents, staff and learners can be confident in the return to face to face learning, based on the latest evidence and information.

Schools and colleges will remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable learners, as well as for learners who need to complete essential exams or assessments. On this basis Special Schools and PRU’s should remain open if possible.

We had initially given schools flexibility in the first two weeks of term to decide when to reopen based on local circumstances.

But it is now clear that a national approach of online learning for the first fortnight of term is the best way forward.

We know that schools and colleges have been safe and secure environments throughout the pandemic.

However, we also know that education settings being open can contribute to wider social mixing outside the school and college environment.

We are confident that schools and colleges have online learning provision in place for this immediate period, Universities in Wales have already agreed a staggered start to term. Students should not return to universities for face to face learning until they are notified that they can do so.

Wales remains in the highest level of restrictions. Everyone must stay at home.

I will continue to update members.

This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.

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