THE youngest pupils in Newport will return to school on February 22 it has been confirmed.

A decision has been made that pupils in nurseries, reception, Year One and Year Two will be able to return to school for face to face teaching following the half term break.

A letter to parents earlier this week from the Newport Association of Primary Headteachers had said it was unable to confirm plans for a return at this point.

However, since that letter was seen by the South Wales Argus, further guidance from the Welsh Government has been made available to schools throughout Wales.

Education minister Kirsty Williams announced last Friday the plans for a return to face to face teaching.

In an open letter to headteachers Ms Williams said: "I would like to thank all the education workforce for their continued hard work and dedication in these uncertain and anxious times.

"In particular the improvement in online teaching during this ‘second lockdown’ has been noticeable to parents and learners across Wales.

"However, we know that remote learning is hardest for our youngest learners, who are missing out on the essential foundations for their learning and development.

Ms Williams added: "I know that many of you as well as parents/carers and learners want certainty that we won’t need further closures. I cannot give you that certainty.

"What I can tell you is that in being cautious and taking a phased approach, we can monitor the impact of a careful opening up to face to face learning on transmission, and rates in staff as well as children and continue to take decisions based on evidence.

"Any further phasing of more year groups will be considered as part of the next 21 day review on the February 19 when we have more detail around any further headroom."

As part of the phased reopening, schools and educations settings will be offered lateral flow tests for all staff on a twice weekly basis.

They will be collected by staff and used at home in order to identify positive asymptomatic cases.


As well as tests, the education minister said "social distancing and other measures put in place by schools and settings" will "reduce the likelihood of adults unwittingly spreading the virus."

Addressing the potential concerns of staff, Ms Williams said: "I know that many in the profession may be anxious, in particular at news coverage of new variants of Covid-19.

"Our chief medical officer confirms that evidence suggests that schools have been successful in providing safe environments for children and teachers.

"In order to keep transmission low as we take cautious first steps we will work with local authorities and our unions to reinforce Keep Wales Safe messages so that parents/carers continue to be vigilant including socially distanced behaviour at school gates, not permitting sleep overs or other household mixing outside of school, and not sending children to school if they have symptoms or have tested positive for Covid-19."