The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, will today set out her five key principles which will determine how education will be phased in at schools in Wales.
Ahead of her appearance at the Children, Young People and Education Committee, the Minister will explain her plans for a phased approach in allowing more pupils to return to school.
Schools are currently only open to children of critical workers and vulnerable children, with many local authorities adopting a hub approach rather than opening all schools in their area.
School provision will gradually adapt and extend further during the next phase, in line with changes to the current restrictions outlined by the First Minister last week. The First Minister published a framework with seven key questions to help lead Wales out of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Education Minister will set out five guiding principles which will determine when and how schools will return to providing education for most school pupils:
- The safety and mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of students and staff
- Continuing contribution to the national effort and strategy to fight the spread of COVID-19
- Having the confidence of parents, staff and students – based on evidence and information – so that they can plan ahead
- Ability to prioritise learners at key points, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds
- Consistency with the Welsh Government’s framework for decision making, to have guidance in place to support measures such as distancing, managing attendance and wider protective actions.
Kirsty Williams said:
Our latest understanding of the rate of transmission of COVID-19 allows us to be hopeful, but still requires us to be cautious.
It is vital that parents, staff and students have confidence in returning to school. We will only enter the next phase when the evidence and advice suggests that it is the right thing to do.
I will communicate any decision to change the operation of schools well in advance of any required action, allowing school staff, pupils and parents to plan ahead.
Schools will not immediately return to operating at full capacity. It will be a phased approach and I do not expect schools will suddenly open for all pupils, from all years, all week.
The ongoing challenge of COVID-19 means we will prepare schools for a range of scenarios for the foreseeable future. However unlikely, we must prepare for an eventuality that requires schools to reduce operations at specific future points.
I would like to thank the all those working hard to ensure that schools and hubs are able to provide support for those who need it. As I have said previously, our teachers, support staff and childcare workers have proved themselves to be national heroes.