THE Welsh Government has published a document setting out how it is considering the next phase for schools, in response to covid-19.

Education minister, Kirsty Williams, today (May 15) described the working document as “setting out our current thinking” for how schools, other education settings and childcare providers’ operations will change to allow social distancing and other factors.

Most schools have been closed since the start of the pandemic, with some open for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children.

The Decision framework for the next phase of education and childcare builds on the five principles published by the minister in April.

The Welsh Government is working with scientists, public health experts, teachers, education providers, trade unions and local authorities to consider the options for the next phase for schools and settings with similar challenges, such as childcare providers and further education colleges.

The first minister today (May 15) published a ‘roadmap’ for how the Welsh Government will move out of the lockdown phase.

Ms Williams said: “As the education minister for Wales, I will make the decisions on how and when more pupils in Wales will return to school.

“I am sharing further information on how those decisions will be reached.

“Nothing would make me happier than seeing our classrooms full again.

“But I want to be clear that this framework does not – and I will not - set an arbitrary date for when more pupils will return to school.

“Setting a date before we have more evidence, more confidence and more control over the virus would be the wrong thing to do.

"This will not be one decision but a series of decisions over time increasing, or if need be, decreasing operation.

“These changes will be complex, with many different considerations.

“I want the working document to be a stimulus for wider discussion and feedback.

“I am sharing this today to be as transparent as possible.

“I want everyone to know the extent of the issues related to the next phase.

“When we are ready to move into that next phase, I will ensure that there is enough time for preparation and for staff to carry out any necessary training.”

Bridgend College chief executive, Simon Pirotte said: “Our education minister, Kirsty Williams, has been quite clear that the health and well-being of our staff and learners is paramount and decisions will be based on a solid bank of evidence.

“I’m confident that, through working together in Wales, we can manage this transition.”