SCHOOLS across Wales will welcome back all pupils today for the first time in more than three months.

The Welsh Government's plans for the remainder of this summer term are to give students and teachers a chance to "check in, catch up, [and] prepare" for what should be a return to more normal education in September.

In what is effectively a mini term, lasting up to four weeks, no more than one-third of Welsh pupils will be asked to attend school at any one time; and staggered starts and lesson times will make it easier for teachers to maintain social distancing in their classrooms.

When education minister Kirsty Williams announced the schools' re-opening plan earlier this month, she said waiting until September would have been "to the detriment to the wellbeing, learning progress and mental health of our young people".

South Wales Argus: Social-distancing measures in place in a classroom. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA WireSocial-distancing measures in place in a classroom. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

The coronavirus pandemic has sent a shockwave through the education system by cancelling GCSE and A-level exams, forcing teachers to set assignments online, and robbing children of the chance to learn, play, and develop alongside their peers.

READ MORE: Follow our live coverage as schools re-open across Gwent

Generally, Covid-19 cases and deaths have been decreasing in recent weeks, but the virus still circulates in our communities and, because of ongoing public health concerns, the Welsh Government will not punish parents who choose not to send their children back to school for this four-week period.

There is flexibility for local authorities, too. In Newport, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, and Monmouthshire, the councils have decided against prolonging the summer term by an extra week and will close their schools on July 17.

The opening up of Welsh schools to all pupils goes beyond the phased re-opening approach in England where, since mid-June, schools have been asked to prioritise the return of nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils; as well as some "face-to-face support" for Years 10 and 12 pupils who will sit GCSE or A-level exams next year.

South Wales Argus: Social-distancing measures in a classroom. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA WireSocial-distancing measures in a classroom. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

The South Wales Argus asked parents in Gwent if they were planning to send their children to school this week.

Responses were mixed, but it was clear – regardless of their decisions – that parents had put their children's wishes first.

Several readers said their children would return to school for the sake of their wellbeing.

Among them was Georgia Roberts, whose daughter Ava attends St Mary's RC Primary School in Newport.

"I am working from home full-time and am a single parent of two children," Ms Roberts said. "Fourteen weeks into lockdown and I am finding it increasingly difficult to ensure all home schooling tasks are completed, and the wellbeing of myself and my children is being affected now.

"Ava is looking forward to seeing a few of her friends while social distancing and it will really boost her mood and confidence."

South Wales Argus: Warren, Kieron, and Ryan Miles, pupils at Gaer Primary School in Newport. Picture: Louise MilesWarren, Kieron, and Ryan Miles, pupils at Gaer Primary School in Newport. Picture: Louise Miles

Louise Miles' three children – Warren, Ryan, and Kieron – go to Gaer Primary School in Newport.

"I spoke to them individually and asked them how they felt about school re-opening, and they all wanted to go back to see their friends," she said. "I am happy for them to go back as I think it’s important for their mental wellbeing too.

"It’s been difficult for adults during this lockdown period so I can’t begin to imagine what it’s been like for the children."

READ MORE: Smiles and rainbows as pupils in Chepstow return to school

Hospital worker Claire Ann Jones said her work meant her children had heard all about the devastating effects of Covid-19.

"They have missed their teachers, friends and family so much, [and] they now need a break from the home environment,"she said. "They have put up with everything Covid... and they have worried about me getting it or whether I would bring it home to them."

South Wales Argus: (L-R) Luc, Aden, and Malachi Jones, from Blackwood. Pictures: Claire Ann Jones(L-R) Luc, Aden, and Malachi Jones, from Blackwood. Pictures: Claire Ann Jones

Her 14-year-old son Luc will go back to Blackwood Comprehensive School this week, and her twin sons Aden and Malachi will return to Blackwood Primary School on their 11th birthdays, she said, adding that she had been reassured by her sons' schools that the classrooms would be "clean and safe".

Other parents, however, said their children were against the idea of going back to school during the outbreak.

Aimee Landy-Redding, from Newport, said she agreed with her youngest child, Emily, who said she "doesn't want to be a guinea pig for the adults" by going back to school while many businesses and public services stayed closed.

Ms Landy Redding also said her family's decision was due to her underlying health condition.

"I have asthma, so I have a higher risk of being hospitalised if I contract Covid-19 and my children, although at lower risk, still pose a risk to me by attending school with other children," she said. "My eldest two children [Keli, 16, and Jack, 12] have special needs, and are not prepared enough for the new systems put into place at their schools."

Another parent, Rebecca Jones, said her daughter Marisha, 16, would not be returning to school in Newport this week because her grandmother is considered a "high-risk" person during the pandemic.

Parents or guardians who are shielding because they are, for example, elderly or have certain underlying health problems, are not expected to send their children back to school this week, the Welsh Government has confirmed.

Among the parents in favour of schools re-opening were several whose children are due to transition from primary to secondary school this summer.

They included Michelle Lewis, whose daughter Millie is in Year 6 at Newport's St Gabriel's RC Primary School in Newport.

"I am sending her because she wanted – actually begged – to go back, and as she will be leaving primary this year she wanted to have information regarding her transition to high school," Mrs Lewis said. "Also, her primary school has put in all the measures to keep the children safe."

South Wales Argus: Lacie Humphrey, pupil at Coed Eva Primary School in Cwmbran. Picture: Amanda HumphreyLacie Humphrey, pupil at Coed Eva Primary School in Cwmbran. Picture: Amanda Humphrey

Amanda Humphrey, from Cwmbran, said it was "very important" her 11-year-old daughter Lacey "goes back for transition to comprehensive school"; and Julie Spencer, from Newport, said "I thought it would be nice for [oldest son Lucas] to see his teacher and to say good bye to the teachers and his friends [at St Andrew's Primary School] for the last time."

  • Have your children returned to school today? We'd love to see your photos and hear your thoughts. Email us at by the end of the school day today.