Two Welsh councils announce they will not reopen schools for full four weeks

Welsh language school sign
Welsh language school sign. Philip Wolmuth / Alamy Stock Photo

Both Anglesey and Wrexham councils have announced today that they will not reopen schools for the full four weeks before the summer holidays.

Wrexham Council said schools would open for three weeks, not four, closing on 17 July. Anglesey said school classrooms will not reopen on 29th June as part of the Welsh Government’s plans.

The decision in Anglesey has been taken in light of the recent increase in positive Coronavirus cases on the Island and the closure of the Two Sisters plant, in Llangefni, after a significantly high number of positive cases amongst the workforce.

It is not clear yet whether schools on Anglesey will eventually open at a later date.

 

‘Uncertainty’

Anglesey Council Leader, Councillor Llinos Medi, said, “I have always emphasised that the health and safety of our children, staff and communities must come first.”

“The growing number of positive cases on the Island and yesterday’s news about the Two Sisters factory in Llangefni has created a great deal of uncertainty and concern on the Island.

“It is, of course, possible that we could see an increase in community transmission of the virus. I am not, at present, willing to see classrooms reopened to Anglesey children.

“Given the current uncertainty, I believe that this is the right course of action, and the best decision in respect of the safety of our children, all school staff and wider communities.”

Cllr Llinos Medi also emphasised her immense gratitude to all school staff across the county for their continued hard work.

‘Confusion’

In joint statement Wrexham Council Leader Mark Pritchard and Chief Executive Ian Bancroft confirmed that schools across the county borough will not open for the fourth and final week, and will close for the summer holidays on Friday, July 17.

In the statement they say it is their “understanding that Welsh Government and trade unions are struggling to reach agreement”, and the Government has stated in the media that “schools and councils will have the final say.”

Cllr Pritchard and Mr Bancroft continue on to say: “There’s 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.

“As a result, we can confirm that schools across the county borough will not open for the fourth and final week, and will close for the summer holidays on Friday, July 17.

“Schools will reopen on Monday, June 29 for three weeks – not four weeks, as originally planned.”

They add: “We know this is really hard for everyone. It’ll mean more work for schools in planning for three weeks instead of four, and it could mean your school needs to contact you about reducing the number of days your child can attend.

“Schools will continue to work extremely hard over the next few days to make any required amendments to the arrangements, and it would be appreciated if parents don’t contact schools this time…as schools will be contacting parents / carers if there are to be any changes.

“We want to make it clear that this is in no way the fault of our schools. It’s a national issue, and a decision we haven’t taken lightly.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding. We’re still living in such strange times and facing challenges every day as a result of Covid-19.”

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