Teachers and teaching staff will be offered twice weekly coronavirus testing, Welsh Government has announced.
The announcement was made after Wales’ Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, confirmed children aged three to seven-years-old would return to the classroom after February half-term.
All staff in registered childcare settings, including Flying Start, schools and colleges will receive regular tests using lateral flow devices – which return a result within around 30 minutes.
Teaching staff will be asked to collect the testing devices, which will be given to schools free of charge, to be used at home before returning to school.
The move was confirmed in a joint-statement from Ms Williams, Health Minister Vaughan Gething and Deputy Health Minister Julie Morgan.
The statement said Welsh Government is “pausing” its daily contact testing in schools and colleges while more is learned about the new coronavirus variants.
The ministers said: “On December 14 we announced our plans for testing in schools and colleges from January 2021, along with our future plans to provide testing support in other education and childcare settings including Flying Start settings.
“Since the announcement in December, the context has changed. In particular, we have learned of the introduction of new variants and the rise in community infections has resulted in a number of changes around childcare and education provision.
“We are led by the latest scientific advice and so it was right that we consider again what testing offer should be made available alongside other infection prevention controls to support childcare, schools and colleges to safely provide face to face learning and care.
Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Education Minister, Sian Gwenllian, said: “Why stop at testing teachers? It’s an important step in keeping our schools safe, but there is more that could be done to help reassure parents, teachers and learners that learning environments are as safe as they can be.”
Ms Gwenllian called for teachers and other key workers to be vaccinated at the “earliest opportunity” and floated the idea of outdoor learning for pupils.
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