SCHOOLS in Wales have been told to prepare for a return to remote learning after the Christmas holidays.

Education minister Jeremy Miles MS has today reiterated the Welsh Government’s desire to continue with in-person teaching, but added that some measures may need to be taken to protect staff and children.

The minister has written to schools “to ensure they have robust plans in place to move to remote learning if required.”

MORE NEWS:

Schools will get two “planning days” at the start of the spring term, to allow them to plan for the return of all children to school.

The next term will also see rules on face coverings continue, as well as a ramping up of testing – with secondary aged children and all staff expected to test three times a week using Lateral Flow Tests.

“Our collective priority continues to be to minimise the disruption to education, and ensure where possible learners continue to receive in-person learning, as well as protecting staff, learners and communities,” said Mr Miles.

“I know that the autumn term has been particularly challenging for school staff, learners and their families, and the level of disruption due to staff capacity has resulted in some schools having to make the difficult decision to move certain classes or year groups to remote learning for short periods.

“In recognition of the challenges that schools and colleges have faced, and the current levels of uncertainty regarding the impact of Omicron, I have today written to all schools and colleges to provide as much clarity now as I can to enable them to plan and prepare for the return in January.

“I am providing all schools with two planning days at the start of the spring term. This will  allow time for schools to assess staffing capacity and put the necessary measures in place to support the return of all learners.

“Schools will be asked to make use of the planning days to ensure they have robust plans in place to move to remote learning if required – this could be for individual classes or year groups or possibly for the whole school.

“Schools will be asked also to use this opportunity to revisit contingency plans, ensuring exam years are prioritised for on-site provision should there be a need to restrict in person learning at any time and consider what arrangements might need to be in place for vulnerable learners and the children of critical workers during any periods of disruption.

“This is a fast evolving situation and we continue to monitor the latest data and evidence.

“I would like reiterate my thanks to all in the education community for all they have done during these most challenging of times.”

As well as this, schools have been allowed to stagger start and finish times for the new term as part of measures to combat the spread of the Omicron variant.

Colleges have also been given the option to use the two “planning days” at the start of term, and have been advised they can move to some online learning from January.

If you value our journalism, please support The National by becoming a subscriber.