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School leaders ‘bitterly disappointed’ at ‘contradictory’ decision on school closures in Wales

Laura Doel, director of school leaders’ union NAHT Cymru, said: “While we feel this is the right decision for secondary schools given the circumstances, it is going to be a challenge for them to move to fully supporting online learning while simultaneously remaining open for vulnerable children, and we are concerned about the impact it could have on classroom bubbles.

“We know that some local authorities are looking to also support the children of key workers in secondary schools. If that is the case it is going to be a huge challenge to put that support in place, rework risk assessments and turn all of this around in 24 hours as well as supporting online learning.

“We are bitterly disappointed for primary schools and their families. This decision ignores Welsh government’s own advice on pre-isolating before seeing extended family over the Christmas holidays.

“In allowing households to mix over Christmas, the government passed responsibility for making Covid safety decisions on to individuals. But it is not allowing them the flexibility to decide their own priorities. Many parents will simply vote with their feet and keep children at home anyway.

“Attendance figures in Primary schools in Wales may now plummet in the last week of term, and there will be no mechanism in place to continue learning because school sites will remain open. Schools do not have sufficient staff and resources to simultaneously teach virtually and stay open. If all school sites closed and switched to distance learning, at least children would be able to carry on with their education.

“Since the announcement was made this afternoon, we are receiving calls from local authorities across Wales who are making their own decisions to switch to blended learning in primary schools from next week to allow families and school staff to adhere to the government’s own advice on pre-isolation. Once again we will have a mixed economy across Wales.

“The Minister says she is acting specifically on the Chief Medical Officer’s advice relating to secondaries and that closing secondary schools will reduce the R rate. We call on the CMO to review the situation in primary schools as a matter of urgency so schools can continue to support their children with learning at home.

"Once again there was no mention at all of special schools, where staff who support children with incredibly complex needs are seeing high numbers of Covid cases.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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