The Welsh Government has explained why they have decided to close schools but not nurseries.
Yesterday Wales’ Liberal Democrat education minister Kirsty Williams announced that all schools in Wales would be closed until at least January 18.
Along with the already existing tier four restrictions this placed Wales into essentially a full lockdown like back in March (though the rules were more relaxed around exercise and single person bubbles).
One key difference compared to the first lockdown is that nurseries have remained open. In the first wave of the virus this was not the case.
With even low risk activities like golf and an outdoor walk banned under the new rules, WalesOnline asked the Welsh Government why they had opted to keep nurseries open.
The rationale is apparently down to low numbers of cases in very young children.
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “While the rates of coronavirus in Wales remain high, cases in children under five continue to be relatively low.
“Our childcare providers have worked hard to ensure settings such as nurseries are safe, with low numbers of children on site.
“We will continue to monitor the data, taking decisions as and when necessary to manage the virus.”
Speaking yesterday Ms Williams said that schools would operate online learning until January 18.
She said: “Schools and colleges will remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable learners, as well as for learners who need to complete essential exams or assessments…
“But it is now clear that a national approach of online learning for the next fortnight is the best way to contribute to reducing the transmission of coronavirus.”
See the full statement here.
There had been widespread pressure for the Welsh Government to abandon its flexible phased reopening plan calling for schools which could have seen some reopen as early as January 6. Nearly all schools were due to have returned on January 11.
Scientists are concerned that the new variant of the coronavirus spreads so much more easily that it’s unlikely the pandemic can be kept in retreat unless schools are closed.
UK scientific advisory body Sage said in the minutes of its meeting on December 22 that it is highly unlikely the R number would remain below one with schools open.