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Schools re-open: Children could be forced to wear face masks in classrooms from September


Kirsty Williams said the Welsh government was considering using protective face coverings to keep pupils and staff safe when classrooms start to open. Currently more than 6,000 children of key workers are attending hub schools across Wales and are not required to wear face masks.

But as schools open up for more children, the measures are expected to change dramatically.

England is currently the only part of the UK asking schools to begin phased reopenings from the start of next week, raising fears among teachers’ unions about the risks of infection from coronavirus.

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford has made clear that schools won’t be reopening straight away telling Good Morning Britain: “We won’t be bringing new cohorts of children back into schools on the 1st of June.

“We would like to bring some children back into school before the summer holiday if we could.”

Among the measures suggested by Kirsty Williams include strict cleaning regimes, a cap on class sizes, ventilation and protocols for reporting infections are all being considered currently.

Ms Williams said: “When we are in a position to have more children going to school we will set out guidance around how we make that as safe as possible.

“We will have complete guidance and that will include whether we would suggest people wear face coverings.

“That will be based on advice from science and the chief medical officer and it could, potentially, include guidance on masks.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson confirms 2.1m children to return to school on June 1

Ms Williams added it was hoped to have a national approach to reopening schools but stressed that local differences and the design of schools must be considered.

She added: “We are hoping to take a pan-Wales approach, but what we have to be aware of is that there is a huge diversity of education and a simple matter of a school building that could pose huge challenges.”

It is expected that Wales will combine home learning and face to face teaching even after the new academic year starts, the government said.

Ms Williams added: “I foresee ongoing use of blended teaching and that could include into the new academic year.

“I think we should prepare ourselves for that even at the start of the new academic year, depending where we are in this pandemic.

“It will not necessarily be the case that all children are in school all the time.”

It comes after First Minister Mark Drakeford said people living in Wales would be allowed to meet up with others outdoors from Monday.

Mr Drakeford said a relaxing of lockdown rules meant people from two different households would be able to meet as long as they do not travel more than five miles.

Under new “stay local” guidelines, which replace the “stay at home” message previously used by the Welsh Government, people will still need to observe social distancing when meeting in public or private outdoor spaces.

Exceptions will allow for travelling to work, to seek care, and shopping for essentials if they are not available locally.


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