Voice Community Cymru – the education and early years section of Community Union in Wales – has given a cautious welcome to the Education Minister’s announcement on the next phase of reopening education from 15 March 2021.
Senior Professional Officer (Wales) Urtha Felda said:
“We are pleased that the prevalence of the virus has reduced to levels which allow a cautious return to the classroom for all primary children and exam years in Wales from 15 March.
“However, we urge the Welsh Government and local authority employers to monitor closely the impact of that return before proceeding with a full return for all secondary pupils after Easter.
“The safety of staff working in schools cannot be compromised in an attempt to reopen schools prematurely. Suitable mitigations will be needed to ensure that is respected.
“There are still concerns over managing bubbles without cross over, and managing social distancing in secondary schools. We will monitor how effectively the Operational Guidance is being implemented in our schools.
“We are concerned about the lack of mitigation measures, and also deeply disappointed by the decision of the governments of the UK nations to follow the advice of the JVCI not to prioritise education and early years staff for vaccination.
“Education and early years staff, along with other key workers, frequently cannot practise social distancing at work and have to come into close or actual contact with children or other adults, and therefore are obviously at more risk than those in occupations that can work from home, regardless of age. We had written to the Education Minister, calling for priority access to the vaccine.”