SCHOOLS in Wales will reopen on June 29 - but parents who choose not to send their children in will not be fined.

Education minister Kirsty Williams MS says schools will open for pupils from all year groups for limited periods during the week, but only a third of pupils will be in school at any one time.

The summer term will be extended by one week, to Monday July 27, and there will be a two-week break at the autumn half term.

"In each school there will be phased approach. Years will be split into cohorts with staggered starts and breaks," said Ms Williams at the daily Welsh Government coronavirus briefing.

"This means at most a third of pupils will be present at any one time.

"Next week we will include further information in a report, including how schools can manage their facilities including buildings, resources, cleaning and transport."

Ms Williams stressed that this is only an 'opportunity', and is not essential.

"We know we are going to have to live with this for some time and that the classroom experience will be different for a long time to come," she said.

"All learners in Wales will have the opportunity to check in, catch up and prepare for summer and September, beginning on Monday June 29.

"We are proposing to extend the term for an extra week to end on July 27, with an extra week’s break at the Autumn half term."

There will be three and a half weeks to continue to prepare for next phase, and guidance for childcare providers will be provided tomorrow.


"Teachers will be a priority group in our new antibody testing programme," said Ms Williams.

"Waiting until September would mean almost half a year of no schooling, to the detriment of children’s education and wellbeing."

This is especially true for vulnerable and disadvantaged children, she added.

"It is a chance for parents and students to check in, catch up and prepare. It’s an opportunity and we will respect parents’ decisions.

"I know people will feel apprehensive, the period before the next phase gives us time to watch developments elsewhere and review the evidence."

Ms Williams said there will be "limited contact time and face to face educating, and more time at home learning in a distanced fashion."

"The school day will operate differently and we will have staggered start times and finish times," she said.

"We will be working with local authorities and headteachers, and we will be taking into account each school's circumstances.

"Headteachers will be contacting parents to understand what works best for them, I would expect.

"We will see one classroom teacher have one cohort spread over a day or maybe a number of days.

"We will have a continued dialogue to ensure the resources to do that are available.

"While the rules on social distancing remain with us we cannot return to school as it was.

"We must get used to a new way of working. I hope we can be back to normal in September, but the evidence is not telling me that will be the case. At this stage it is too early to predict.

"We have to learn to live beside this virus."

Those who have opportunity to walk to school will be encouraged to do so, but Ms Williams said she recognises that for many families this is not possible as they are reliant on public transport.

"Guidance will be issued on this next week," she said.