Wales Schools to remain closed until 18 January

Schools in Wales will remain closed until 18 January with online learning being provided for pupils.

It follows an announcement by the Minister for Education Kirsty Williams yesterdayevening.

The Minister said: “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 light of that decision, the Welsh Government, in consultation with the Welsh Local Government Association, has agreed that all schools should move to online learning until 18 January.

“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 pupil referral units 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 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 environment.

“We are confident that schools have online learning provision in place for this immediate period.

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

Bridgend Cabinet Member for Education Comments

Bridgend County Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, Cllr Charles Smith responded to the news, saying: “Schools will soon be notifying parents of the in-school provision available for the children of critical workers and vulnerable learners which will be available between 6 and 8 January (inclusive) and 11 and 15 January (inclusive).

“The position taken by Welsh Government takes into account the latest scientific and medical data available, and will be reviewed regularly.

“Online learning will continue for pupils with virtual classrooms and blended learning techniques in place.”

In Bridgend, a critical worker is defined as someone who works for one of the following organisations:

  • Health
  • Social care
  • Fire and rescue service
  • Police
  • Ambulance service
  • Education