ALL children and staff members at schools in Wales who display coronavirus symptoms must be tested, education minister Kirsty Williams said today.

As Wales prepares for the gradual reopening of Wales from later this week, Ms Williams said she has "every confidence" that schools will be carrying out risk assessments and "doing everything they can to protect the interests of children and the staff who work there."

Going back to school is critical for children's health and wellbeing, she added.

At the weekly Welsh Government coronavirus media briefing, Ms Williams said the Wales has sought to learn from Scotland - where pupils have already returned to school - in terms of how a 'new normal' for schooling is bedding in, and what challenges have arisen.

There has been a "significant uptake" in Scotland in the number of pupils taking Covid-19 tests since schools have reopened there, she said, and children in Wales who experience a new cough, temperature, or loss of taste or smell "will be expected to take a test".

"Other winter ailments could be confused (with these symptoms), but it is essential at this stage that they need to be tested," said Ms Williams, who stressed that these procedures also apply to teaching staff..

"If they are in receipt of a positive test, they and their close contacts will need to self-isolate.

"That is how we keep everybody safe".


On the issue of parental confidence in how safe schools are - for pupils and also for their families - Ms Williams said that those who do not send their children to school will not be fined at the moment, but the policy regarding fines for parents over the non-attendance of children is being kept under review.

"It is appropriate now to work with parents to address their concerns," she said.

"This is a much more productive approach to getting children back to school, rather than threatening them with fines, at this stage."

She said that in the event of coronavirus cases being reported among pupils or staff at schools in Wales, the decision on whether they remain open or are closed is ultimately one for headteachers and governing bodies.

But she expects that such decisions will be taken "in conjunction with local authorities and Public Health Wales".