“The situation for schools in Wales will not change on June 1st.” That was the message from Education Minister Kirsty Williams today.
In a message posted on her Twitter account, Kirsty Williams said:
“As you’ll know, there is a lot of speculation about what may or may not be announced regarding schools in England this weekend.
“As I have said before, you will always hear directly from me on the decisions we make in Wales for our pupils, parents and school staff.
“The situation for schools in Wales will not change on 1 June. You have my guarantee that we will give everyone time to plan ahead of a next phase starting.
“Any decision to increase the operation of schools will be communicated well in advance. We are working closely with local authorities to ensure that schools are supported in this preparation work.
“In the meantime, critical workers and those who need to use schools or hubs for your children should continue do so.
“We will continue to be guided by the very latest scientific advice and will only look to have more pupils and staff in schools when it is safe to do so. We will, of course, need to ensure that social distancing requirements can be adhered to.”
The Minister has also written to all of the main teaching unions in the UK and Ireland, in response to their concerns that schools will be open to most pupils before it is safe to do so.
Next week, the Minister will publish a working document which sets out more of the thinking, planning and modelling for the next steps for education in Wales, including childcare and further education. The document will include how key decisions will be reached and who will providing advice on those decisions.
The Minister reiterated that the five key principles she previously set out to determine when and how schools will return to providing education for most school pupils will remain in place.
“Of my five principles the first, and most important, is the safety and mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of students and staff.”
The Minister set out her five key principles on 27 April, which are:
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.