The Welsh Government has published updated operational guidance and learning guidance.
Updated Guidance: 19.02.21
The First Minister announced on 19 February that schools in Wales will begin a phased return.
The youngest learners (3-7 year old pupils) will return to school from 22 February.
The Welsh Government's aim is to ensure that all primary aged children and all examination aged students in secondary schools will return to school from March 15.
Small numbers of vocational learners, including apprentices, are also be able to return to colleges.
Children of critical workers and vulnerable learners will continue to receive face to face learning on the school site, and special schools and PRUs will continue to remain open where possible.
The Welsh Government has announced they will provide an additional £5 million to schools, colleges and local authorities so that they are able to operate safely and in a Covid secure way.
GCSE, AS and A level students
Following the decision of remote learning until the end of January, GCSE, AS and A level internal assessment window will be cancelled.
Universities in Wales have staggered the return to term time, and students should not return for face to face learning until they are notified.
Critical Workers and Special Schools
Schools will remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable learners, as well as PRUs and Special Schools being allowed to remain open where possible.
Nurseries and childcare
All childcare facilities are able to remain open providing they are operating in a safe and secure way.
The Welsh Technical Advisory Group, which provides scientific and technical advice to Government during emergencies, recommends that schools “plan to open in September with 100% of pupils physically present on school sites, subject to a continuing, steady decline in the presence of COVID-19 in the community”.
The Welsh Government will provide an additional £29 million to schools to boost support for learners at crucial stages in their education from September.
- The equivalent of 600 extra teachers and 300 teaching assistants will be recruited throughout the next school year, targeting extra support at Years 11, 12 and 13, as well as disadvantaged and vulnerable learners of all ages. This will support learners taking their A level and GCSEs in 2021 and those known to have been affected most. This targeted action is hugely important to the futures of these young people.
- Professional learning resources will be provided to support the new and existing teachers, in preparation for September. Staff will be recruited on a one-year fixed term contract and are expected to move into educational roles in the following school year. The support package, provided at a school level, could include extra coaching support, personalised learning programmes and additional time and resources for exam year pupils.
Advice on Facemasks within educational settings
On 23 November the Welsh Government announced that secondary school and college pupils and staff will be expected to wear face coverings on school premises at all times other than in the classroom. This does not apply to primary schools.
All visitors including parents picking up or dropping off their children on school premises will have to wear face coverings also.
Where a decision is made to introduce the use of face coverings in the event of new local restrictions being imposed, schools and colleges will need to communicate quickly and clearly to staff, parents and learners that the new arrangements require the use of face coverings in certain circumstances.
Increased measures to prevent virus transmission
Persons displaying COVID-19 symptoms should be sent home, and advised to arrange a test and ensure self-isolation guidance is adhered to. In this case, contact tracing processes will also commence.
It is not appropriate for schools to share information on potential COVID-19 cases in the school to wider staff, pupils or parents. Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) this is highly sensitive personal health information that should not be shared.
Although it is not possible to ensure a totally risk-free environment, the Welsh Government’s updated operational guidance includes comprehensive information on the protective measures schools should take to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus.
Social distancing in schools
Socially distancing must occur where possible by minimising contact between individuals where possible. However, with younger children this is at times not possible and can be difficult, therefore there will be an emphasis on forming groups of learners and ensuring separation of those groups.
Critical worker criteria
Local authorities have the power to decide who is classed as a critical worker. The law requires only one parents to be acritical worker for the child to be eligible for face to face learning.
Health and social care workers, public safety and national security workers, education and childcare workers, food and necessary goods workers, transport workers, financial and communication workers and key public service workers are all within this criteria The list published by the Welsh Government on who is classified as a critical worker can be found here.
Last updated 19/02/21