The two main opposition parties in Wales have called for teachers to be vaccinated quicker to hasten the return of schools.
The Conservatives and Plaid Cymru made the call after the Welsh Government announced yesterday that schools would move to online learning until at least 18 January.
But with schools in Scotland and England announcing longer closures, it is suspected that time period may well be extended.
The Welsh Conservative and Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Education Ministers, Suzy Davies and Siân Gwenllian, called for the change.
“This announcement reinforces our calls for teachers to be prioritised to receive the new vaccine, because this virus has damaged our young learners’ education enough,” Suzy Davies said.
“An immunisation programme for all school staff needs to get underway with a timetable for rollout announced,” Siân Gwenllian said.
Suzy Davies said that the news had been announced by the Welsh Government too late for many parents.
“Because of the planned staggered return, we were told that teachers were preparing online, blended learning,” she said.
“I hope, and I’m sure all parents and pupils feel the same, that these systems can be adapted for this full closure.
“What parents, pupils, and teachers across Wales need is reassurance from the Minister as to what conditions must be met for schools to re-open, because while a prudent measure, to read that the next two weeks will be used to plan for the ‘rest of term’ offers little reassurance.
“This announcement, however, reinforces our calls for teachers to be prioritised to receive the new vaccine, because this virus has damaged our young learners’ education enough.”
Plaid Cymru called for clarity on school staff immunisation rollout, hubs for children of key workers, and more focus on removing the digital divide.
“This is clarity at the eleventh hour from the Welsh Government, leaving little or no time for parents and teachers to adapt to the changing circumstances,” Siân Gwenllian said.
“In Scotland, the Government has decided to move education on-line until February as the virus has got ahead of the vaccine. The Welsh Government needs to explain why it is lagging behind in taking robust action to get the virus under control.
“It is unclear what the Welsh Government expects will change in just two weeks’ time and so we risk being in the same position yet again with yet more confusion in a fortnight.
“An immunisation programme for all school staff needs to get underway with a timetable for roll out announced.
“Hubs for vulnerable children and the children of key workers are needed. The Education Minister needs to explain what support will be available to children from disadvantaged backgrounds who will now fall further behind with their education, and for parents who are juggling work and looking after children at home.
“Plaid Cymru has long called for a focus on removing the digital divide – that should have happened by now. Urgent action is needed.”