All schools in Wales to reopen later this month, education minister says
All schools in Wales will reopen on June 29, the country’s education minister has said.
Kirsty Williams said a four-week term ending on July 27 would give pupils, staff and parents time to prepare for a “new normal” when the next academic year begins in September.
Speaking on Wednesday, Ms Williams said a phased approach would see staggered starts, lessons, and breaks for different year groups, with a third of pupils at most in school at any time.
Under the plans teachers will also be given priority for antibody testing.
“My announcement today gives schools three-and-a-half weeks to continue preparing for the next phase,” she said.
“We will use the last weeks of the summer term to make sure pupils, staff and parents are prepared – mentally, emotionally and practically – for the new normal in September.
“June 29 means there will have been one full month of test, trace and protect, which will continue to expand. I can also announce that teachers will be a priority group in our new antibody-testing programme. As we continue to keep Wales safe, this approach will be critical.
“The evolving science suggests that warm weather and sunlight gives us the best opportunity to ensure more time in school. Waiting until September would mean almost half a year without schooling. That would be to the detriment to the wellbeing, learning progress and mental health of our young people.”
Ms Williams said the return plan was the “best practical option” and met the five principles she previously said would have to be met before a return could be considered.
She also said allowing pupils to return to the classroom was the best way to meet the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
Ms Williams added: “Working together we will secure equity and excellence for pupils as they check in, catch up, and prepare for summer and September.”
Further Education colleges are expected to reopen for face-to-face learning from June 15, with priority for students requiring licence to practise assessments and vulnerable learners.
The Welsh Government says it will publish guidance to support schools and further education next week, including information on managing their facilities, as well as guidance for childcare providers.