Today (30 July) the Welsh Government announced that from 7 August under-18s will no longer be required to self-isolate if they are identified as “close contacts”. The change coincides with plans to end other safety measures in schools.
Laura Doel, director of school leaders’ union NAHT Cymru, said: “The Welsh Government’s lifting of the requirement for under-18-year-olds to self-isolate comes at the same time that the Government also plans to remove a host of other Covid-related safety measure affecting school communities.
“Given that Covid rates in schools were rising at the end of the summer term, and most notably in certain areas of Wales, we urge the government to consider with caution the removal of all mitigation measures in one go and to think about what alternative safety measures can be put in place instead, such as better ventilation and a properly functioning test and trace system.
“We continue to be led by the scientific evidence, however, the government should explain its rationale behind apparent contradictions, such as face coverings remaining mandatory at certain indoor events and in retail premises, but not expected to be worn in schools. We also ask the government to explain its decision to remove staggered start and finish times for school days and lunch sittings.
“Each local authority will need to react to local circumstances as they arise, and this may not, in the event, rule out the need to self-isolate. With the possibility that neighbouring schools – and children within the same family – may be under different Covid safety measures, the Welsh Government should reassure those concerned that this will not lead to confusion.
“We all want learners to be able to stay in school and avoid further disruption to their education. However, we ask the Government now to explain its plans for putting other measures in place to protect learners and staff from the start of next term.”
First published 30 July 2021