PARENTS across Gwent have shared their views on when they think their children should be allowed to return to school.

Unlike in England, where some schools will reopen next month, Wales' education minister Kirsty Williams has said she will not set an "arbitrary date for schools to reopen", and said it is still too early to confirm when students will return.

She added "at this stage we need more evidence about the progression of the pandemic and the disease."

Parents across Gwent have now discussed whether they think it is time to send their children back to school before the summer holidays.

South Wales Argus:

(Education Minister Kirsty Williams has set out key principles on how Wales will return to school.)

Nicola Gerhardt, who lives near Monmouth, has three children, one who gets very little homework and another two who get plenty - but in a language she can't speak.

"My two younger ones, who are six and eight, go to a Welsh-speaking school and neither myself or my husband speak Welsh," she said. "I feel helpless - and I fear they will really fall behind.

"My other son, who is 14 and goes to an English-speaking school, is set hardly any work, and I know his peers are getting more support.

"I'd appreciate my children to be able to go into school for a couple of hours each day as soon as possible, to make sure they don't lose out."

Simon Clayden, from Newport, who is a father to five children, all under 15, says he would not consider sending his children back to school before September, but thinks they should return after the summer.

South Wales Argus:

(Simon Clayden and his daughter Darcie.)

“From now until September the Welsh Government and the local authorities should come up with a sufficient safety plan,” he said. “Instead of play time have exercise time, instead of sitting together have social distancing and make sure children are not sharing anything.


“We have to move on because our economy is crumbling. The impact on normal families in Newport will be huge. My weekly shopping bills have gone up so much since lockdown started. We need to try and get back to work.”

Gem Walker, from Risca, who has two children aged eight and 12, says she is yet to decide on when she will send her children back to school, but said her 12-year-old – who has learning difficulties – is falling behind.

South Wales Argus:

(Gem Walker and her family, Jimmy (right), Aneurin and Lowry.)

“Before I send them I would have to know that cases were on the decline and that schools could manage.

“My older child has learning difficulties which affects his memory. He is in a learning support class and has struggled with not having that support.

“He had a go at schoolwork but found it too much, and we have had to focus on more practical skills.”

Shelley Herniman, who is a key worker in the rail industry, says she feels lucky that her husband has been isolating with son Noah, 14, who suffers from a disorder that causes tumours to grow on the nerves, making him vulnerable.

South Wales Argus:

(Shelley and Noah Herniman)

“I am not prepared to send Noah back to school until I am guaranteed his safety,” she said.

“As my husband suffers with asthma he has been at home with Noah, but we’ve decided that when he goes back we will do opposite shifts to allow Noah to stay home.

“I worry that, whether the kids are five or 15, they like to congregate, and I am not convinced social distancing is possible.”

A psychiatric nurse from Abergavenny with two young children, who wishes to remain anonymous, has said that she feels she is struggling with her own mental health due to the pressure of parenting in lockdown.

“With the kids at home and my partner and I working, I have found the last few weeks extremely difficult,” she said. “As my partner’s role isn’t essential, we couldn’t get childcare.“I know while they are home they are safe, but it is hard for me to balance work as well as home-schooling.

“If the schools decide to re-open before September, I would probably let them go back.”

Kirsty Williams has set out five key principles that the Welsh Government are working towards before opening schools. You can see those principles here: