Children ‘robbed of education’ because Welsh Government dependent on scarce UK Covid-19 tests

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A lack of testing capacity means that children are losing out on school unnecessarily, Plaid Cymru have said.

They have called on the Welsh Government to stop depending on the UK wide testing system and accelerate increasing their own testing capacity.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Conservatives have called on the Welsh Government to begin testing passengers at Cardiff airport.

This week the UK Government’s Department for Health and Social Care has been forced to ration availability of tests throughout the country, including in areas under lockdown such as Rhondda.

Plaid Cymru said this meant that many pupils in Wales are absent from school for longer than necessary in line because they could not test negatively for Covid-19.

Currently, 55 schools in Wales have reported cases with pupils having to self-isolate for 14 days.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Education, Sian Gwenllian MS said her “inbox is full of e-mails from parents from all parts of Wales” experiencing these difficulties, and that depending on a UK wide testing scheme is “robbing pupils of their education”.

“There is a serious weakness with the testing strategy for schools and the  Education Minister is just not taking any responsibility for it,” she said.

“There are huge delays and a lack of tests available which means that far too many pupils are absent from our schools unnecessarily and are missing out on their education once again.

“Depending on Westminster’s testing system is now harming the education of our children and young people and robbing them further of their education – which has already been impacted so significantly by Covid.

“My message to the Education Minister and the Health Minister is this. Take responsibility. Use our own Welsh NHS’s testing capacity in full and accelerate the plans to increase testing capacity. We can’t wait until November to sort this out.”

 

‘Dithering’

Meanwhile, the Welsh Conservatives expressed “disappointment” after the Welsh Government turned down making face masks mandatory in schools and implementing testing at Cardiff Airport.

“Labour has dithered during the pandemic, for example only introducing face masks in shops from this week despite our repeated calls over many weeks for their introduction,” Welsh Conservative Leader Paul Davies said.

“Welsh Conservatives know that it would show consistency for face coverings to be made mandatory in schools, too, and so this formed a key part of our motion. Labour, however, being typically inconsistent, rejected it.

“Today, we also called for the introduction of testing of all passengers arriving at Cardiff Airport – an airport owned by the Welsh Government – but again, the party stalled, and then rejected the idea.

“A national crisis is the time for decisiveness and action, not the inconsistency, delay and dithering the party across the floor has subjected the people of Wales to throughout the pandemic.

“However, that is precisely what that party has given Wales for 21 long years.

“But there is hope, and that hope lies in next year’s Welsh Parliamentary election which will be the chance to end Labour’s dithering by electing a Welsh Conservative government to unleash Wales’ potential.”

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