A Welsh teachers’ union has said it “will not hesitate” to take action over plans to allow schools to re-open next week.
A second group is now calling for all school teaching to move online in order to protect members of staff from the new strain of Covid-19.
While a number of local authorities have already made the decision to push back face-to-face teaching in schools to January 11, a number of schools are planning to re-open as soon as January 6.
Earlier this week the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) Cymru held meeting with ministers where they called on the Welsh Government to make a national decision on when all schools will re-open.
Now a second union, NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, has said they are worried schools will not be able to reopen “safely”, and warned that action could be taken.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: “The NASUWT is completely committed to ensuring that children can return to school as quickly as possible.
“However, it is now abundantly clear that the pandemic is seriously impacting on the ability of all schools to continue to operate normally.
“There is genuine concern that schools are not able to reopen fully and safely at this time.
“The NASUWT remains of the view that schools and other settings should only remain open to all pupils where it is safe for them to do so.
“The NASUWT will not hesitate to take appropriate action in order to protect members whose safety is put at risk as a result of the failure of employers or the Welsh Government to ensure safe working conditions in schools.”
Previously, Rhonnda Cynon Taf council leader Andrew Morgan said more than 84 school staff in the borough are now shielding.
Mr Morgan, who is also leader of the Welsh Local Government Association, said he understood most other councils in Wales will also decide not to re-open schools next week.
Some pupils in Monmouthshire and Powys will return to school on January 6 as planned, however.
Neil Butler, NASUWT national official for Wales, said: “The whole of Wales is in Tier 4 and yet there are schools in Wales planning to open this week to full face-to-face teaching.
“There is chaos and confusion in the education service in Wales as the buck has effectively been passed to Local Authorities and some Authorities have passed it down to individual schools.
“The Education Minister has made teachers in Wales the promise that the safety of education workers would be a priority.
“We are now faced with a strain of Covid-19 that is 70% more virulent and 30%+ of new cases in Wales are of the new strain.
“We need to hear from the Education Minister that face-to-face teaching is suspended until schools can review their risk assessments to be able to cope with the new strain.
“During that time teachers can finally get the time to develop distance learning resources that are so desperately needed.”
Speaking to BBC Wales, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “We have agreed with local authorities a common approach to schools returning in January with some flexibility built in over the first two weeks of term.
“It is our expectation that pupils, when not in school, will continue to benefit from remote learning.”
Earlier this week, a spokesman told WalesOnline: “Our priority throughout the pandemic has been to minimise disruption to learners and enable them to receive face-to-face learning where safe to do so.
“We have agreed with local authorities a common approach to schools returning in January with some flexibility built in over the first two weeks of term. It is our expectation that pupils, when not in school, will continue to benefit from remote learning.
“As with any changes to schools and college openings for in-person teaching decisions will be based on the latest scientific advice. We will continue to work in partnership with local authorities, schools, and colleges on any changes to the scheduled opening arrangements.
“Schools and colleges will communicate directly with learners and families on their plans for opening in the new year.”