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


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. 

All primary school pupils and those facing exams will return to classrooms in Wales by March 15 so long as the Covid-19 situation ‘continues to improve,’ Mark Drakeford confirmed today. 

The First Minister is set to 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 for at least three weeks.

Children aged between three and seven – in the foundation phase of Welsh education – will resume face-to-face classes from Monday, Mr Drakeford said.   

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. 

‘I’ll be saying today that on Monday March 15, provided things continue to improve, all primary school children will be back in face-to-face education and those students in secondary schools who are facing examinations, we aim to get them back in the classroom as well,’ the Labour leader said.

‘And then we will carefully review as part of our deal with our teaching unions and local education authorities. We take a step, we collect the evidence, we decide what to do next.’

Mr Drakeford added the Welsh Government would take a ‘careful and cautious step-by-step approach’ to easing lockdown restrictions in Wales.

Self-contained accommodation in Wales could reopen in time for the Easter period.

Mr Drakeford told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I met our tourism taskforce yesterday, we’ll be having some detailed discussions with them now over the next couple of weeks to see if there’s anything that we might be able to do around the Easter period.

‘The most that would be would be the reopening of self-contained accommodation where there aren’t shared facilities and there isn’t social mixing.

‘But if we could do that – and six weeks is a very long time in this business – if we could do that in six weeks’ time, I know that that would be a boost to the industry and a big boost to hundreds of thousands of families in Wales for whom going down the caravan for a few days or a break would be a very welcome prospect.’  

All primary school pupils as well as those in Years 11 and 13 are expected to return to classrooms 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 shut 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.  

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

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

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

 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

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 reopen on March 8. 

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