Welsh Government has outlined its plans for more pupils to return to their schools before Easter.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams confirmed schools would be given the opportunity to welcome back learners in Years 7, 8 and 9 to give them the opportunity to check in with teachers, with a focus on support for wellbeing, and readiness for a full return to school after the Easter holidays.
The planned return of younger secondary pupils would be in addition to all primary pupils, who are expected to return from 15 March, along with learners in Years 10 and 12 and those in exam years. Younger primary pupils have already been able to return to their classrooms.
The plans will be subject to the regular three-week review of coronavirus regulations by the Welsh Government on Friday 12 March.
The Minister said: “Opening up education is a top priority for us at the Welsh Government and I am pleased to share some positive news on that front today. This is the second week for our youngest pupils to be back in school and I have seen first-hand what a difference this is already making – thank you once again to everyone who is making this possible.
“We have already announced that from 15 March – if the scientific advice still says it is safe to do so – all remaining primary school children will start to return to school, along with those in exam years and students doing similar qualifications in colleges and work-based learning. There will also be flexibility for those in Years 10 and 12.
“I have also shared my intention to get all learners back to schools, colleges and training providers after the Easter break.
“I want to make clear now that this will not be a full return to school for Years 7, 8 and 9 before Easter. The focus before Easter will be on learners who are undertaking qualifications, especially those in Years 11 and 13, and those studying practical vocational qualifications.
“I would like to thank all of you once again for following the rules, driving down the transmission of the virus, and for giving us even more headroom to get learners back to our schools and colleges. Together we will keep Wales safe and together, we will keep Wales learning.”
Cllr Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, said: “This will be very welcome news for parents and learners and I’m pleased that pupils will be able to check in with their teachers before a full return to school after the Easter break.
“Allowing pupils to continue their education safely remains our highest priority and Bridgend County Borough Council will work alongside headteachers and governing bodies to make the necessary preparations as soon as Welsh Government reveals further details.
“In the meantime, it’s vital that all pupils, students, parents, and carers continue to follow the guidelines in order to help fight the spread of coronavirus and allow children and their teachers to return to their classrooms safely.”