The First Minister has said that if there are “unintended consequences” to reopening schools after half-term that the decision could be reversed.
The UK Government plans to reopen schools on 8 March while three to seven-year-olds will begin to return to school in Wales on 22 February.
Speaking on Sky News, Mark Drakeford said that schools could open earlier in Wales than England because Wales went into lockdown earlier, but said that they could close again.
“In these early stages you should always take measures that can be reversed quickly if you needed to do that,” he told Sophie Ridge.
“If there were to be unintended consequences from having three to seven-year-olds back into schools, then, of course, we would be able to go into reverse.
“Now we absolutely don’t want to do that. We want things to continue to improve. We want this to be the first step on a journey to get any more children back into the classroom.
“But if things were to go against us, if a new variant were to appear, then we could go back to the position we’re in today.”
He said the Kent variant is “much more aggressive” and that he wanted to make sure that opening schools would not mean that the “virus gets away from us”.
The First Minister also broke with Labour leader Keir Starmer on the issue of prioritising school workers for the coronavirus vaccine. “We don’t take the same view.”
“It’s our top priority as a government to get children back into the classroom as safely as we can. And I completely understand why there is a debate about whether teachers should be moved up the queue for vaccination.
“As I say, we follow the advice of the JCVI [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] – it’s what you have to do as a government. But I don’t think it was wrong for Sir Keir Starmer to raise the issue.”