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Ministers must ensure that the decisions about the operation of schools over the Christmas period and the start of the new term do not undermine the safety and welfare of pupils and school staff, NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union has warned.

The message comes amid concern from teachers about the impact of family mixing over Christmas and virus transmission in schools in the run up to and after the holidays, following the latest Technical Advisory Group (TAG) statement and the determination of the Welsh Government not to close school sites early. 

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“There is genuine concern amongst teachers about the continued risk of virus transmission within schools and the Welsh Government will need to carefully consider what additional measures may be needed in January to protect pupils and staff if it is not going to delay the reopening of schools in January.

“There remains strong evidence of in-school virus transmission which is only likely to be exacerbated by the inevitable rise in virus cases as a result of Christmas gatherings.

“Ministers need urgently to strengthen the measures in place, particularly in areas of higher risk of virus transmission, to ensure health and safety within schools and to protect public health.”

Neil Butler, NASUWT National Official Wales, said:

“The rumour and speculation over the last week around the potential to vary the holiday dates has only served to raise expectations and anxiety amongst the profession.

“The latest TAG advice has stated that a 'period of pre-isolation for families with children as a result of school closures could reduce the level of social mixing'.

“Our members are telling us that this is leading to many parents withdrawing their children from school. Distance learning could be the solution to maintaining education provision whilst reducing the risk of virus transmission in the run up to Christmas. Failing the Welsh Government’s leadership on this we are asking Local Authorities to step up to the plate."

 

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