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Commenting on the First Minister’s announcement that schools in Wales will start to open more widely for younger pupils from 22 February, Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:
 
“It is essential that the Wales national lockdown restrictions are supported fully in order to reduce the rates of virus transmission in the wider community and in order to ensure that schools can reopen fully as soon as it is safe to do so whilst minimising the risks to public health.
 
“It is important that the majority of children and young people in all schools are now supported to stay at home and that teachers also work from home to provide support for children’s learning remotely.
 
“The Welsh Government must deliver urgently extra support to families during the lockdown, many of whom are experiencing very serious financial difficulties at this time.
 
“Given previous experience, the announcement of arbitrary dates for schools to reopen to all pupils can be profoundly unhelpful to parents and to those working in schools. However, a clear plan for how schools will be fully reopened whenever the lockdown restrictions are lifted remains a key question which the Welsh Government must now work urgently and openly with the profession to address and I welcome the commitment from the First Minister to work with the education unions on this.”
 
Neil Butler, NASUWT National Official Wales said:
 
“We appreciate that the Welsh Government has committed to fully engage with education unions over plans for a return to school settings and we look forward to serious negotiations on this issue.

“We also understand why the Welsh Government wants to prioritise the return of the youngest children to the classroom, but given the difficulty in ensuring social distancing with these children it is time for the Welsh Government to look at vaccinating those education workers who will be expected to work in these settings before the end of February half term.”

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