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Early Christmas holidays for Wales’ school children will be ‘discussed’ amid Omicron concerns says Drakeford

29 Nov 2021 3 minute read
Wales’ First Minister, Mark Drakeford. Picture by the Welsh Government

Another early Christmas break could be on the cards for Wales’ school children as Mark Drakeford said he was discussing the move with teaching unions amid concerns about the new Omicron variant.

Wales’ First Minister said that he would only “reluctantly” add more term time disruption after schools were closed for such a long time last year.

Speaking with Eddie Mair on LBC radio, Mark Drakeford was asked: “What about an early Christmas holiday?”

Mark Drakeford responded: “We will continue to discuss that with our trade union and local authority education colleagues,” Mr Drakeford replied.

“Our children have had the most disrupted education. It’s a top priority for us to do everything we can to keep our young people in school and learning, in as normal a way as possible in extraordinary circumstances.

“We would only reluctantly introduce another interference in that process. But we will discuss it with the people who provide that service at the front line.”

Mark Drakeford added that school children would also be expected to wear masks in classrooms once more.

‘Can’t be relied on’

Mark Drakeford has previously revealed that one of the most difficult decisions he had to make around the Covid-19 pandemic was to close schools two weeks early in December last year, because he knew it would rob many poorer children of any Christmas.

The Welsh Government confirmed on 10 December last year that schools would move to online learning in order to stop the rapid spread of the Kent variant of Covid-19 during the second wave.

The First Minister told the Central Club podcast that the decision to close schools was one of the hardest he had to make, because many children only got a Christmas dinner, party and present at school.

“You were asking me earlier about hard decisions, and difficult decisions,” he said. “Amongst the most difficult decisions for me was that we ended up closing schools two weeks before the Christmas holiday.

“Because I just know from working in Ely all those years that there are some children who the only Christmas they get, is in school.

“If they get a Christmas party, it’s because it’s in school. If they get Christmas dinner, it’s because they get it in school. If they get a Christmas present, it’s because they get it in school.

“Because their own families live very difficult, very complicated lives. And at home, those things can’t be relied on. And the fact that we ended up closing schools two weeks early, and those children weren’t going to get those things.

“I think that was really one of the nights where I did go home thinking ‘What a thing we’re having to do here’.”

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