Welsh Government is facing calls to vaccinate teachers as schools begin to reopen in Wales.
Pupils aged between three and seven are returning to the classroom this week, with plans for all primary school pupils to return from March 15, should coronavirus cases continue to fall.
However, Plaid Cymru has called for teachers to be prioritised for vaccines within their age groups.
Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Education Minister, Sian Gwenllian, said: “The Labour Government should fully support calls for school staff be given priority for the vaccine within their age groups”.
Ms Gwenllian also called for safety measures to “emphasise adequate ventilation of school buildings,” and said the safety of school staff and pupils should be the “number one priority”.
“Getting our children back to face-to-face learning is incredibly important but this should be driven by the data,” she added.
Speaking at Welsh Government’s coronavirus press briefing on Monday (February 22), Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “We will be guided by, as always, the advice of the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation) – this is an independent committee of experts who are there to advise governments on how best to deliver an immunisation and vaccination programme.
“They’ve done that on the basis of risk – who is more likely to suffer significant harm, or tragically death, as a result of contracting Covid – and that’s why the vaccination groups are set out as they are.
“We await further advice from JCVI on what should happen after April when the first one to nine groups have been vaccinated, and of course whatever the JCVI recommend, that’s what the Welsh Government will follow.
“When it comes to teachers, I think it bears repeating once again that in terms of deaths, hospitalisations or even test positivity, thankfully our teachers and our teaching assistants are at no greater risk than the general population.”
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Chris Jones, said: “The current approach is to get through the nine high risk groups – which represent 99% of all deaths due to Covid.
“There’s no place to vary from that.”
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He added: “Phase two though is the wider rollout throughout the population and we await JCVI advice about that. I think we’ll probably hear something over the next couple of weeks.
“My sense is that age will be still be a very important factor in the prioritisation of that rollout because it still determines outcome.
“Occupation is quite a difficult thing to put into such a programme because is it often very hard to disentangle the affect of the workplace, from travelling to the workplace and other factors in individual peoples’ lives.”
In Caerphilly County Borough, schools began to reopen on Monday (February 22) for pupils aged three to seven. More schools are set to reopen to pupils within this age group later in the week.
During the press briefing, Ms Williams expressed her desire to see all pupils return to the classroom after the Easter, but refused to commit to a date.
She also announced the twice-weekly testing for teachers and school staff will be extended to pupils in years 11, 12 and 13, as well as pupils in further education settings.
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