Welsh lockdown and stay-at-home order will remain in place

Welsh lockdown and stay-at-home order will remain in place for another three weeks to allow safe return for primary school pupils from March 15

  • Children aged three to seven will return to classrooms in Wales from Monday 
  • Mark Drakeford will confirm all primary and exam age pupils to return March 15 
  • He will announce no changes to stay-at-home order in lockdown update today

When are schools expected to open across Britain? 

England

Boris Johnson has repeatedly said the Government will target March 8 to reopen schools across England. 

But it is still unclear exactly how the reopening will work, with the PM due to unveil his lockdown exit roadmap on Monday. 

The PM is said to want to see all pupils return on the same day but some union bosses are adamant there should be a phased return to classrooms, with the Health Secretary also said to be advocating a cautious approach. 

Scotland

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed on February 16 that schools in Scotland will begin a phased reopening from Monday.

Pupils between the ages of four and eight will be the first to return to classes on that date.

No other pupils will return until at least 15 March, it was said. 

Wales

Children aged between three and seven will resume face-to-face classes in Wales from Monday.

There will also be returns for some vocational learners, including apprentices, to colleges in order to access training or workplace environments for their practical qualifications.

Mark Drakeford is today expected to confirm that all primary school pupils as well as those in Years 11 and 13 could return from March 15.

Northern Ireland 

First Minister Arlene Foster said last month that schools in Northern Ireland will not reopen until at least March 8. 

The Welsh lockdown will remain in place for at least another three weeks to allow for a safe return to school for all primary school and exam age pupils from March 15. 

Children aged between three and seven will resume face-to-face classes in Wales from Monday, after they were deemed the least likely to transmit coronavirus. 

There will also be returns for some vocational learners, including apprentices, to colleges so they can access training or workplace environments for their practical qualifications.  

First Minister Mark Drakeford will today announce there will be no further significant changes to the country’s level four restrictions – which have been in place since December 20 – as stay-at-home rules are extended once again.

But the Labour leader will confirm that all primary school pupils as well as those in Years 11 and 13 could return from March 15 if the country’s public health situation continues to improve.

The Welsh government closed schools to the majority of pupils amid growing fears about the Kent variant of coronavirus, which was blamed for the rise in cases seen before Christmas. 

Schools have since remained closed except to vulnerable children, and those whose parents are key workers. 

Mr Drakeford previously said that schools will look to use a mix of face-to-face teaching and online lessons when they do return to classrooms, with pupils only in school ‘some of the time’.  

Despite the return to schools set for February 22, the Labour leader also recently warned they could close again if cases rose, following a further review into the restrictions which will take place on March 12. 

Authorities in Wales review the situation every 21 days, and the next review of regulations will also consider reopening non-essential retail and close contact services like hair salons.

Non-essential retail has remained closed in Wales since Christmas Eve under tough level four restrictions which have been in place since the end of 2020.

Mr Drakeford has also said Easter will mark an ‘important moment’ for the tourism and hospitality industry in Wales, adding the Government was ‘talking with them about what might be possible.’ 

Last month, Mr Drakeford said the Welsh government would contemplate vaccinating teachers to speed up the process of reopening schools if the policy was recommend by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. 

‘We follow the advice of the JCVI,’ he told the BBC. 

‘If the committee tell us that we should prioritise particular professional groups including teachers, that is what we will do. JCVI has said it is considering all of the these things all of the time.’ 

First Minister Mark Drakeford will today announce there will be no further significant changes to the country’s level four restrictions – which have been in place since December 20 – as stay-at-home rules are extended once again. Pictured: Drakeford

Levels of Covid-19 in Wales are now at their lowest since the end of September last year, with the country’s seven-day case rate now at 84 per 100,000 people, while one in three adults have received a vaccine.  

Public Health Wales yesterday said a total of 822,633 first doses of the vaccine had been given, an increase of 15,282 from the previous day, while second doses increased by 6,345 to a total of 19,342.

The agency also said there were a further 290 cases of Covid-19 in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 200,456.

It also reported another 14 deaths, taking the total in the country since the start of the pandemic to 5,189.

It comes as teachers in England warned mass-testing could mean some pupils won’t go back to school until April – as Boris Johnson continued to face backlash over his plans to reopen classrooms on March 8.

An academy chief was yesterday leading calls for a staggered return for pupils, insisting a secondary school with around 2,000 students would likely have to invite one year group back each week to carry out testing on such a scale.

A graph showing the number of vaccines per day in the UK. Over 16.4 million people have so far received at least one dose in the UK

The percentage of 70 to 74-year-olds who have been given their first dose of the vaccination

Even if it did begin early next month as the Prime Minister proposes, such a process would not realistically be completed until the week of April 19, education bosses claim. 

The comments by Steve Chalke, founder of the Oasis multi-academy trust which runs more than 50 schools nationwide, comes as Mr Johnson is facing opposition to his plan for widespread, simultaneous returns from teaching unions and Matt Hancock.

Mr Chalke told the Telegraph: ‘You need a waiting area, a testing area, a holding area, an administrative area and an isolation area for people who test positive.

‘You need to have someone in charge of it all, someone to assist with the testing, someone in charge of the collation of the data, someone in charge of the hosting area, someone in charge of waste disposal, someone to oversee the isolation area – it is quite an operation.’

 Children aged between three and seven will resume face-to-face classes in Wales from Monday, after they were deemed the least likely to transmit coronavirus. Pictured: Stock image

It comes as teachers in England warned mass-testing could mean some pupils won’t go back to school until April – as Boris Johnson continued to face backlash over his plans to reopen classrooms on March 8

He added that schools would become ‘a medical centre’ if more than one year group was being brought in for testing at the same time. 

The Prime Minister has repeatedly said the Government will target March 8 to reopen schools across England. 

But it is still unclear exactly how the reopening will work, with the PM due to unveil his lockdown exit roadmap on Monday. 

The PM is said to want to see all pupils return on the same day but some union bosses are adamant there should be a phased return to classrooms, with the Health Secretary also said to be advocating a cautious approach. 

Elsewhere in Britain, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed on February 16 that schools in Scotland will begin a phased reopening from Monday.

Pupils between the ages of four and eight will be the first to return to classes on that date. No other pupils will return until at least 15 March, it was said. 

It is also understood that schools in Northern Ireland could open on March 8. 

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