‘More localised approach’ to Covid restrictions in Wales’ schools and universities after the summer
The new education minister, Jeremy Miles has said that there will be a more “localised approach” to Covid restrictions at schools and universities after the summer.
It means schools and universities Wales will be able to decide their own Covid rules on things like masks, self-isolating and social distancing. Local incident management teams will discuss with schools what the local risk profile is.
While things “won’t be back to normal” schools and universities will be able to “escalate and de-escalate” Covid restrictions depending on the local risk. “Schools will be able to make judgments based on their local risk profile,” he said.
Speaking at today’s Welsh Government press conference, he said that there will be “no wholesale removal of mitigating measures” but the aim is to “minimise disruption to learning”.
“These changes do not mean a wholesale removal of mitigating measures, but are about our schools, colleges and universities being able to make decisions based on the balance of harms and minimising disruption to learning – all within the wider context of our successful vaccine programme and relatively low case numbers,” he said.
Jeremy Miles added that the education sector have all played their part, and “put in a tremendous amount of hard work” to create Covid-secure learning environments”.
“Our learners, parents and carers have also supported these efforts, including lateral flow testing and isolating when unwell,” he said.
“While we will not simply be back to normal by September, we will look to gradually ease the extraordinary measures we’ve had to put in place. Our guiding principle has to be a move towards education being enabled to operate as ‘normally’ as possible in the autumn.
“Currently, all education settings follow national guidance. However, as we move through the pandemic there will be a need to move to a more localised approach, rather than a blanket approach.”
He added that as part of dcussions with partners, we need to be looking at the key challenges schools, colleges and universities currently face.
“That includes looking at best practice across Wales to ensure that there are not a disproportionate number of learners self-isolating,” he said.
“While class or year ‘bubbles’ have played an important role over the last year, we need to ensure that settings distinguish between ‘bubbles’ on the one hand, and personal contact with cases on the other.”