The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, has today announced plans for more pupils in Wales to have the opportunity to return to the classroom ahead of the Easter break.
Speaking in a video released on her Twitter channel, the Minister confirmed that schools would be given the opportunity to welcome back learners in years 7, 8 and 9.
The aim will be to give learners the opportunity to check in with teachers, with a focus on support for wellbeing, and readiness for a full return to school after the Easter holidays.
The planned return of younger secondary school pupils would be in addition to all primary pupils, who are expected to return from 15 March, along with learners in years 10 and 12, those in exam years and students doing similar qualifications in colleges.
Younger primary pupils have been able to return to their classrooms since Monday, 22 February.
The plans will be subject to the regular three-week review of coronavirus regulations by the Welsh Government on Friday 12 March.
The Minister said:
Opening up education is a top priority for the Welsh Government and I am pleased to share some positive news on that front today.
This is the second week for our youngest pupils to be back in school and I have seen first-hand what a difference this is already making – thank you once again to everyone who is making this possible.
We have already announced that from the 15th March, if the scientific advice still says it is safe to do so, all remaining primary school children will start to return to school, along with those in exam years and students doing similar qualifications in colleges and work-based learning. There will also be flexibility for those in years 10 and 12.
I have also shared my intention to get all learners back to schools, colleges and training providers after the Easter break.
Today, I am able to confirm our intentions to go even further, even earlier, and give schools the opportunity to welcome back learners in years 7, 8 and 9 before the Easter break.
This would be to give learners the opportunity to check-in with teachers, with a focus on support for wellbeing, and readiness for a full return to school after Easter.
I want to make clear now that this will not be a full return to school for years 7, 8 and 9 before Easter. The focus before Easter will be on learners who are undertaking qualifications, especially those in Years 11 and 13, and those studying practical vocational qualifications.
We will publish full guidance for schools from 9am today, that will help with all the necessary planning.
We will also be organising more virtual sessions for heads, which I know you have found useful, and I will share details on social media.
I would like to thank all of you once again for following the rules, driving down the transmission of the virus, and for giving us even more headroom to get learners back to our schools and colleges.
Together we will keep Wales safe and together we will keep Wales learning.