Coronavirus: Schools in Wales will not reopen imminently, says minister

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Children in a classroomImage source, Getty Images

Schools in Wales will not reopen next week and a change to that is not imminent, the Welsh education minister has said.

Kirsty Williams said when schools do reopen "it won't be business as usual" and only some children may return.

The closure will only end when she receives advice it is safe to do so, the minister said.

Education institutions across the UK shut because of the coronavirus outbreak in March.

The Easter break was due to end next week, but some schools have remained open to provide care for children of key workers.

Ms Williams said that during the first week of the Easter holidays, there were around "430 settings open, with around 2,700 children attending daily".

There were more than 250 open on Good Friday and Easter Monday, with up to 680 children attending.

"We should prepare ourselves for a significant period of disruption to our education system," the education minister told the daily Welsh Government press conference.

"I will only re-open schools when I have the advice from the chief medical officer and the chief scientific officer that it is safe to do so.

"And at this moment I have not received that advice."

She added: "The scientific advice is very clear in terms of the continuation of social distancing practices, so what are the practicalities of actually operating that within the school? We may be in a situation where we can have part of the school cohort going back."

Support for parents

Ms Williams said Wales will become the only government to provide "national guidance and tools" for children learning at home.

It includes guidance for teachers on supporting pupils and for parents on how they can help their children.

"The package will be inclusive, to meet the needs as many learners as we can, and support learning in both Welsh and English," she said.

"Let me be clear, we don't want, nor do we expect, parents to be formal teachers, but we do need to provide support for parents to help them help their children."