Today, as part of the First Minister's 'roadmap' out of lockdown, Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Minister Kirsty Williams MS has set out her ideas on what the next phase for Welsh schools will be.
Laying our her ideas in a new 'Decision Framework', Kirsty Williams is setting out the current thinking for how schools, other education settings and childcare providers’ operations will change to allow social distancing.
Most schools have been closed since the start of the pandemic, with some open only for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children.
This new set of criteria and thinking set out in the new document explains the next phase of education and childcare, building on the five principles that were published last month.
Kirsty Williams is also ensuring the Welsh Government works with scientists, public health experts, teachers, education providers, trade unions and local authorities to consider the options for the next phase for schools and settings with similar challenges, such as childcare providers and further education colleges.
Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Secretary and Member of the Senedd for Brecon & Radnorshire, said:
“As Education Minister, I will make the decisions on how and when more pupils in Wales will return to school. Today I am sharing further information on how those decisions will be reached.
“Nothing would make me happier than seeing our classrooms full again. But I want to be clear that this framework does not – and I will not - set an arbitrary date for when more pupils will return to school. Setting a date before we have more evidence, more confidence and more control over the virus would be the wrong thing to do.
“This will not be one decision but a series of decisions over time increasing, or if need be, decreasing operation. These changes will be complex, with many different considerations. I want the working document to be a stimulus for wider discussion and feedback.
“I am sharing this today to be as transparent as possible. I want everyone to know the extent of the issues related to the next phase.
“When we are ready to move into that next phase, I will ensure that there is enough time for preparation and for staff to carry out any necessary training.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds added:
"I am really proud of the work Kirsty is doing to keep our children learning and get them back into the classroom when it is safe to do so.
"Throughout this crisis Wales has been leagues ahead of the other nations when it comes to education and learning. That is down to the hard work and dedication of Kirsty and her team.
"Yet again Kirsty is showing everyone how it should be done. She is laying out her plans and proposals upfront and in detail, putting her in stark contrast to the confusion and ever changing messages coming out of Westminster.
"The Welsh Liberal Democrats will continue to champion education and do all we can to ensure every child in Wales gets the tools they need to go out and be successful in the world."