Schools in Wales are set to reopen on June 29, three months after they were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Welsh Government has published guidance to prepare schools for the reopening, as well as guidance for further education settings, such as colleges.
It is expected that the summer term will be extended by an extra week and will end on July 24, while the autumn half-term break will be increased to two weeks, with dates yet to be confirmed.
How will the reopening work?
Each school will reopen with a phased approach. Year groups will be split into groups, with each group having a staggered start time and break times and finishing times during the school day.
This approach is likely to mean no more than a third of all pupils will be in school at any one time, with class sizes considerably smaller.
However, schools may not be able to accommodate this many pupils straight away.
Pupils will be made to wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds when arriving at and leaving school, as well as before and after touching food or equipment that may have been touched by someone else, as well as after any physical contact with anyone else.
Social distancing will be in place for all pupils and staff.
Pupils or staff members who are displaying symptoms of Covid-19, or who live with anyone showing symptoms of the virus, are urged not to attend school.
Will I be fined if I refuse to send my children back to school?
Parents will not be fined if they refuse to send their children back to school.
Welsh Government has said there is no expectation for parents who are shielding to send their pupils back to school, and that all pupils in this situation will continue to be supported by their schools.
Children who are shielding have been advised against returning to school, and will continue to be supported by their school as they have been throughout lockdown.
What about pupils attending education hubs?
In Caerphilly County Borough, 11 sites have remained open to accommodate the children of key workers, as well as pupils deemed vulnerable.
Education hubs have been operating from Bedwas High, Blackwood Primary, Idris Davies 3-18, Lewis School, Risca Community Comprehensive, Trinity Fields, St James’ Primary School, Rhiw Syr Dafydd and at Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni (Gellihaf site), Greenhill Primary and Glan y Nant.
While Welsh Government has said it expects pupils attending the hubs to return to their usual education setting, it expects schools to make additional provision for these pupils for the remainder of the summer term.
Welsh Government has said it will clarify what provision will be available to children attending the hubs in due course.
Can I drop off and collect my children from school?
Yes, but social distancing must be followed.
Travelling to and from school
Where possible, pupils are advised to walk or cycle to school, with social distancing maintained between themselves and members of other households.
Welsh Government has said priority for school transport should be given to pupils who would be unable to attend school without it.
Do pupils still have to wear uniform?
Pupils will still be able to wear school uniform, but are urged not to wear anything that is not easily washable.
Will school meals be affected?
According to Welsh Government, depending on the timetable, some schools may decide that lunch doesn’t need to be provided, or that pupils should bring their own lunch to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.
However, some schools may be required to provide lunch based on the timetables. Meals may be served in classrooms if social distancing cannot be maintained in regular dining areas.
Pupils and staff will be required to wash their hands before and after eating or handling food. Food must not be shared.
What has the education minister said?
Welsh Government’s education minister, Kirsty Williams, said: “We know that such a long period away from school, friends and the classroom will have a detrimental impact on the wellbeing and learning of many young people. That is why we have taken the decision that the majority of learners will be able to check in, catch up, and prepare for the summer and September.
“Striking a balance between providing national public health guidance and enabling local flexibility has been critical in the development of this guidance. More detail and support will be developed as detailed plans are worked up by schools and local authorities.”
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