ALMOST 60 per cent of Gwent parents who responded to an Argus survey said they would not be sending their children back to school on June 29.

And headteachers across Gwent have been writing to parents to tell them of the measures that will be in place, while also stressing that they are awaiting further guidance on how the return will work.

Announcing yesterday that schools will reopen in Wales on June 29, education minister Kirsty Williams stressed that this is an “opportunity” rather than a rule, and parents can make their own decision whether to send their children back.

In an Argus Instagram poll, we asked: “Will you be sending your children back to school on June 29?”. Of the 375 respondents, 221 (59 per cent) said “no” and 154 said “yes”.

Becky Pyatt, who lives in St Julian’s in Newport and has children aged seven, 11 and 14, said: “I think it’s an absolute disgrace to use children as guinea pigs.

South Wales Argus:

Becky Pyatt, oldest son Tristan, youngest son Logan, daughter Evie-Louise and husband Lloyd

“Ultimately this will cause a second wave and more loss of life. We have only just been given the all clear to meet outside and yet they want to send our kids back inside.

“My children have not left the house since a week before lockdown, they miss their family and friends and it breaks my heart, but I would rather them be safe here.”

Gemma Roberts, from Blaenau Gwent, who has children aged eight and nine, said she will “more than likely” not be sending her children back until September.


“My daughter is asthmatic so even though they are excited to go back to school I’m very concerned about the risks.”

Ms Roberts also said she was concerned about the “massive pressure” on schools to prepare for June 29, and on parents working around their children’s new “staggered” schedule.

South Wales Argus:

Gemma Roberts with Owen and Chloe

“With the new cohort system there are so many parents who will struggle to keep staggering their own shifts to be able to pick the kids up from work," she added.

South Wales Argus:

Cody Turner (above), from Abertillery, has two children, seven-year-old Seren and two-year-old Anderson. She said Seren cannot wait to go back to school, and the return on June 29 will bring some normality back for lots of children.

She added that all parents will be doing what is right for their children and there is no right or wrong answer.

Morgan Bagshaw, from Abergavenny, whose son is six and daughter is four, said: "I’m pleased to hear they are opening schools and attempting to do it in a way that all year groups will go back.

"My kids are missing their daily routine so, even if they are only back a day or two a week, it will be good to have some structure.


"I’m concerned how they will cope with the “new normal” where they may not be able to play with their friends and they are in a sterile classroom, and I’m worried that may have an impact on their mental health, so I’m taking a cautious approach and will be led by the children.

"It’s a monumental task for schools to organise this and I am very grateful to our teachers and support staff."

South Wales Argus:

Morgan Bagshaw with son Jack

A number of headteachers have written to parents providing details on preparations during the next three-and-a-half weeks.

Gerard McNamara, headteacher at Brynmawr Foundation School, wrote: “This return will require a phased approach over time and we are currently assessing the practicalities of what this will look like.

The return "will be an opportunity for pupils to see staff, some of their friends, reflect upon their learning and begin to prepare for the autumn term.

“Pupils will be taught in small groups and strict social distancing measures will be in place.

South Wales Argus:

Gerard McNamara

“We have been operating as a repurposed school hub since the closures were introduced. From this we understand what it means to support children in this difficult time."


Dean Curtis, headteacher at St Julian’s School in Newport, wrote: “I can imagine that amongst you all, there were a range of reactions from excitement through to anxiety.

"We will have a robust plan in place to deal with the next phase. The health and safety of our school community will be our priority. We will ensure that measures are in place to keep your child safe on their return to school.

"We will be in touch with more details next week of how this next phase will work for St Julian’s."

Lisa Thomas, headteacher at Georgetown Primary in Tredegar, wrote: "While we as a school welcome the decision, we are unsure how this will look at the moment and are awaiting further guidance.

"Please rest assured that as soon as we have further guidance we will let you know."