Four more councils have announced that children won’t be returning for the full four weeks requested by the Welsh Government, after confirmation by Wrexham and Anglesey.
Cardiff, Newport, Monmouthshire, Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent have now said their schools will finish on the original end of term 17 July date, three weeks after reopening on 29th June.
Pupils on Anglesey are now not expected to return to school at all before the summer as the council copes with a coronavirus outbreak on the island.
Conwy Council has announced that schools will return for the full four weeks. Some councils have not yet commented.
The Welsh Government said that it was good news that all but one of the local authorities had confirmed that children would be allowed to return.
“Some Local Authorities have decided that will be for three weeks, rather than four,” a spokesperson said.
“While we continue to recommend four weeks of ‘Check in, Catch up and Prepare’, we acknowledge that ultimately this is a decision for local authorities, who are the employers of school staff.”
There were concerns by local authorities that some school staff such as cleaners, cooks, lunchtime supervisors and facilities staff wouldn’t be available during the week that usually coincides with the summer holidays, as their contracts only cover standard term times.
Wrexham council said that there was “no contractual obligation for staff to work the extra week – putting the onus on individual headteachers and staff, which is unfair”.
“It could also lead to inconsistency and confusion, with some schools able to open for the fourth week, and some not.
“We know that many parents will be feeling anxious and uncertain about sending their children back to school, and need to know exactly what’s happening so they can make arrangements and feel confident.
“So this isn’t something that can be left until the last minute, and it’s only fair – to staff, parents and pupils – that we make a decision for the whole of Wrexham now. Not tomorrow, or next week, but today.”
Teaching Union NAHT Cymru’s General Secretary Paul Whiteman said that ‘NAHT saw much of the minister’s plan as a pragmatic attempt to move the situation forward for learners. What matters now is that we quickly identify a consensus that supports education.’