THE biggest challenge now facing schools in Wales is how to juggle delivering learning while ensuring safety for pupils once they reopen in late June. 

Education minister Kirsty Williams MS has today announced that 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.

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

But schools already open in England offer a glimpse of what teaching may look like come June 29. 

Pupils are obeying social distancing rules in England, which can mean only one person at a desk at a time. 

South Wales Argus:

(Xs are marked where pupils aren't allowed to sit. Picture: PA Wire.)

South Wales Argus:

(Xs are also crossed where pupils cannot sit during lunch time. Picture: PA Wire.)

Ms Williams admitted that the "classroom experience will be different for a long time to come".

"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."

South Wales Argus:

(Pupils sit at different desks. Picture: PA Wire.)

South Wales Argus:

(Pupils use the fruits to ensure they are separated. Picture: PA Wire.)


The education minister said that waiting until September to reopen schools would be 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 next phase gives us time to watch developments elsewhere and review the evidence."

South Wales Argus:

(Parents line up outside before dropping off their children, maintaing their social distance. Picture: PA Wire.)

South Wales Argus:

(A teacher impresses the importance of hygiene to a pupil. Picture: PA Wire.)


The current term will be extended by an extra week, to end on July 27.

There will then be an extra week's break during Autumn half-term. 

Ms Williams also revealed that teachers will be a "priority group" in the Government's new antibody testing programme. 

South Wales Argus:

(A pupil sits at a desk on her own. Picture: PA Wire.)

South Wales Argus:

(Pupils play with chalk while social distancing. Picture: PA Wire.)

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.

"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."