All secondary schools and colleges in Wales will commence learning online again from Monday in an attempt to lower the risk of COVID 19 transmission over Christmas.
Kirsty Williams, Wales’ education minister, announced advice from the country’s chief medical officer that said the country’s public health plight was declining.
She said the virus was putting their health service under considerable and continuous stress and it was essential they all contributed to reducing its transmission and that the chief medical officer advised that a shift to online education should be implemented for secondary school students as soon as possible.
Primary schools will continue to function as usual during the same period because it was more problematic for primary and special school-age children to undertake self-directed learning.
COVID rates in Wales have currently surpassed 370 cases per 100,000 people, with a test positivity rate of 17 per cent, data from Test Trace Protect shows – the nation’s R numbers also grew to 1.27.
Wales’ decision has now placed England under pressure to follow suit, as education unions queried why the Government hadn’t done the same.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced secondary school students in the worst impacted areas of London, Essex and Kent would be tested for coronavirus following a wave of cases. However, he said schools would stay open as it was right for education and public health.
Schools in England were previously told they could take an inset day on the last Friday of term so staff could have a decent break without having to engage in the track and trace issues.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) stated that they have to examine why the strategy is to mass test children and there’s no consideration of moving to remote learning for the last week of term.
The sum of infections in these regions was remarkably comparable to the situation in parts of Wales, where the Government there decided to move to remote learning in secondary schools and colleges from Monday.
And it’s hoped that this is not another sign of the Government in Westminster ploughing ahead with its insistence that schools should remain fully open in England, come what may.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of schools leaders’ union NAHT, also stated that the Government is yet to demonstrate why during this emergency testing period public health was best served by schools staying fully open.
And it does make me question why Wales has such an acute infection rate compared to London because I’ve always related Wales to immense open spaces, unpolluted living and disengaged from hustle and bustle, but then I realised they have places like Swansea which is the antithesis of vast open spaces, big town centres, full of stores and loads of housing, but I would have still expected the R numbers to be curtailed.