Covid: Schools in Wales opening in summer holiday 'a possibility'

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media captionHow could pupils in Wales catch up on lost learning?

Schools in Wales may reopen on a phased basis with some allowed to open during the summer holiday to allow pupils to catch up with lost learning time.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams wants to see the youngest pupils and those in exam years to return first.

Schools will be shut until at least the February half term unless the Covid case rates fall.

In relation to schools opening in August, Ms Williams said she was "willing to discuss all possibilities".

She was being interviewed after one head teacher said keeping schools closed was "almost like systematic neglect" to disadvantaged pupils.

image captionEducation Minister Kirsty Williams says it is "very difficult" for younger pupils to learn on computers

Speaking to BBC Wales Live, Ms Williams said she recognised "remote learning is more challenging" for younger pupils.

"It's very difficult to do the foundation phase by computer screen," she said.

Prioritising the return of years 11 and 13 pupils, who are studying towards GCSE and A-level qualifications, was something she also discussed.

Asked whether she could rule out shortening secondary school pupils' summer holidays, she said: "I'm willing to discuss all possibilities with our local education authorities and teaching unions to address the issue of learning loss.

"That's why I'm talking to the unions about all the possibilities about rotas, about a phased return, because I... want as many children to have the benefit of that face to face."

'Intermediate positions'

Secondary schools and colleges across Wales moved to online-only teaching in the last week of the Christmas term, and many primary schools also closed their doors early, as coronavirus cases soared across the country.

Last week, First Minister Mark Drakeford warned the "wholesale" return of pupils to school after February half term was unlikely.

He said there were "intermediate positions" between the current situation, with few children in school, and everyone being back.

Those preparing for qualifications and very young children could return first.

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