SCHOOL leaders’ union NAHT Cymru has written to the Minister for Education to express the concerns ahead of his plans for COVID safety arrangements in Welsh schools come September.

Our sister paper the Leader has reported how Welsh Education Minister Jeremy Miles has announced his intention to scrap face coverings and class bubbles come the post-summer term.

In the letter, NAHT national secretary Rob Kelsall, said: “No-one wants unnecessary restrictions placed on learners or schools for a moment longer than is necessary, however we have to be cautious and vigilant in light of the prevalence of the new variant, particularly in children aged 5-14yrs.

"It is our view that changes to the current mitigations could be premature and potentially have unintended consequences at a point at which the UK is facing a significant rise in infection rates and increased hospitalisations as a result of COVID."

The letter questions the government on their scientific evidence for making these changes, and their reason for making them now instead of reviewing them for the new term in September. It also asks why other measures such as ventilation have not been implemented.

Mr Kelsall continued: “I am today writing to all local authority education directors asking for a common approach in identifying risk and decision making around this, in order to safeguard our school settings and to ensure that a common approach for schools is taken, local authority by local authority.

“All decisions on public safety must be taken collectively, with input from TTP and health boards and should not lie solely with school leaders and their governing bodies. You cannot expect our schools to be making decisions on public health when you are stripping them of important mitigation measures such as the removal of staggered school day start and finish times.

“The removal of staggered start and finish times will have a huge impact on schools’ ability to continue with a host of other mitigation measures such as separate break and lunch times and cleaning between cohorts using shared spaces like the school hall.

“Whilst we recognise that the all other measures in the operational guidance are non-regulatory, there should be no straight jacket on schools taking decisions locally and based on local factors.”