Rules on masks and classroom 'bubbles' lifted in Welsh schools from September

The government says full details on how schools and colleges can operate safely will be published in September. Credit: PA Images

Face masks will no longer be required in classrooms and whole classes will not need to self-isolate if a pupil tests positive for coronavirus from September.

The Education Minister Jeremy Miles MS has written to all headteachers and principals outlining how schools and colleges across Wales can operate safely from the autumn term.

Class 'bubbles' will no longer be needed with the test and trace system being used to identify only close contacts of students who have tested positive.

One union says the changes "could be premature and potentially have unintended consequences."

Students returning to the classroom in September will not be required to wear a mask. Credit: ITV Wales

Mr Miles said the success of the vaccine programme is giving the Welsh Government "optimism" and now more restrictions are being eased across society, the same should happen in education.

"By the end of September all adults in Wales will have been offered both vaccinations, providing greater protection for our education workforce.

"A growing body evidence also shows that children and young people are more at harm from missing school than from Covid."

“Lots of young people I have spoken to have said that they don’t believe the current system is proportionate. They just want to be treated the same as everyone else – and that sounds fair to me.”

Last month, Mr Miles told a press conference schools and councils should take a more "localised approach" to deciding its own rules around Covid safety measures which drew in criticism from teaching unions and opposition parties who accused him of "passing the buck for decision-making onto staff."

The government says details on how schools and colleges can operate safely will be published in September to allow them "time to reflect" on the level of risk from coronavirus locally.

In the announcement, the education minister also confirmed that staggered start times for year groups will also be scrapped.

NAHT national secretary, Rob Kelsall said, "The removal of staggered start and finish times will have a huge impact on schools’ ability to continue with a host of other mitigation measures such as separate break and lunch times and cleaning between cohorts using shared spaces like the school hall."

What are the Covid rules in Wales?

Who can I meet up with indoors?

Up to six people can meet indoors in private homes and holiday accommodation.

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Can I meet people inside at a pub or restaurant?

Up to six people from different households are able to meet in cafes, restaurants, pubs and visitor attractions.

The group does not include children under 11 or carers.

People don't need to socially distance within this group.

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How many people can I meet outdoors?

All legal limits on the number of people who can meet outdoors have been removed.

This means there is no limit on the number of people you can socialise with outside.

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Can I travel in and out of Wales, or around Wales?

There are no restrictions in place for travel into or out of Wales as long as you are travelling to or from a country within the UK, or Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

However, you will need to check the restrictions in place in the area you are travelling from or to.

Travel within Wales is not restricted.

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Do I have to wear a face covering?

Face coverings will remain mandatory on public transport in Wales, with the requirement for them to continue to be worn in shops also being considered.

Masks must still be worn in taxis, on trains and buses, as well as health and social care settings

This applies to everyone aged 11 and over, unless you are classed as exempt.

The Welsh Government said "active further consideration" is being given to whether they will still be required by law in other settings, like retail.

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Do I still have to self-isolate?

If you have tested positive for coronavirus, or have come in to close contact with someone who has, you are required by law to self-isolate for 10 days when told to do so by NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect.

You should also self-isolate and take a Covid test if you have any symptoms of coronavirus or feel generally unwell.

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What's still closed?

Nightclubs and adult entertainment venues are currently closed in Wales under coronavirus regulations.

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However it has not ruled out more updates on how schools and colleges will operate next term, depending on any significant developments during the summer holidays.

While on the six-week break, staff and students are not being required to continue Lateral Flow Tests, but those remaining open are being encouraged to do so.

Staff and students are being asked to do a test just before the autumn term starts.