Emily Gill, local democracy reporter
A cross-Wales approach to keeping schools across the country open until the end of the autumn term have been agreed, despite concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
The Welsh Government and the Welsh Local Government Association – the authority representing the 22 local authorities in Wales – have agreed arrangements for schools in the build up to the end of term, with the focus on as “little disruption as possible”.
A joint statement says in-person teaching and learning will continue until the end of term and remote learning will only be used where “it is proportionate to the prevalence and impact of the virus within the locality”.
This is despite growing concerns that children may need to isolate over the Christmas period. For this reason, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council announced last week that learning would be moving online from this Thursday.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Our priority remains ensuring that education continues for all children and young people with as little disruption as possible.
“The Welsh Government and local authorities would expect schools to operate as usual up until the last day of term, but of course recognise that for exceptional local public health and safety reasons moving to remote learning may be considered an alternative option.
“We will continue to hold regular discussions with local authorities and unions on these matters as we have done throughout the pandemic.”
A spokesman for the Welsh Local Government Association said: “These past few months have been incredibly difficult and the circumstances remain challenging for all of us. The tremendous efforts of teachers, school staff, children and young people in keeping themselves, each other and their communities safe have enabled our schools to be kept open during this difficult time.
“Local authorities and Welsh Government both want to see a coherent, consistent and clear approach being taken nationwide. I am pleased that we have been able to agree on an all-Wales plan, which also takes account of local circumstances.
“I would like to sincerely thank everyone concerned for their patience and perseverance throughout this extraordinary year. Although this challenging period isn’t yet over, we are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, we must all do whatever we can to keep everybody as safe as possible both within schools and at home.”