Contact bubbles and online learning to return to schools amid post-Christmas Covid fears


Changes to school rules come after Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford announced new restrictions for businesses and services and will include extra measures to protect customers and staff – such as one-way systems and physical barriers

Changes to school rules come after First Minister Mark Drakeford announced new restrictions for Wales
Changes to school rules come after First Minister Mark Drakeford announced new restrictions for Wales

Contact bubbles and staggered start and end times will return to schools across Wales next term amid fears of a post-Christmas surge in Covid cases.

Pembrokeshire Council confirmed pupils in its schools will be back in contact groups in January and Powys Council confirmed its pupils will be online for the first day back in January.

Swansea Council’s Director of Education Helen Morgan-Rees said plans would be put in place to return to online teaching if needed, reports Wales Online.

“Schools will also be ensuring that they have robust plans in place to move to remote learning if needed. This could be for individual classes/year groups or possibly for the whole school, depending on staffing pressures,” Ms Morgan-Rees said.

Parents and pupils are being told to expect uncertainty about what schools will look like in January with decisions still being made depending on different local situations with Covid and how the Omicron variant impacts Wales.

Changes to school rules come after First Minister Mark Drakeford announced new restrictions for Wales.

Contact bubbles and staggered start and end times will return to schools across Wales next term
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Image:

PA)

The new restrictions will affect businesses and services and include extra measures to protect customers and staff – such as one-way systems and physical barriers.

Regulations will also be changed to include a requirement to work from home wherever possible.

Until December 27, the Welsh Government is encouraging people to follow five steps, including getting vaccinated, making sure to have a negative lateral flow test result before going shopping or meeting people, meeting in well-ventilated areas – preferably outdoors, spacing out socialising to allow test days in between, and adhering to social distancing, wearing a face covering and washing hands.

It is also urging people to reduce contact with others over the coming days, especially if Christmas plans include seeing older or more vulnerable people.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Delta will continue to be the main cause of coronavirus infections in Wales up to Christmas. But we are seeing cases of Omicron increasing rapidly every day in Wales – and across the UK.

Changes to school rules come after First Minister Mark Drakeford announced new restrictions for Wales
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Image:

Anthony Harvey/REX/Shutterstock)

“We need a plan to keep us safe this Christmas and we need stronger measures to protect us afterwards, as we prepare for a large wave of Omicron infections.

“Omicron poses a new threat to our health and safety. It is the most serious development in the pandemic to date.

“It is one we must take seriously. We will continue to put in place proportionate measures to protect people’s lives and livelihoods.

“This is a virus which thrives on human contact. Every contact we have is an opportunity for us to spread or catch the virus.”

It comes as the UK’s total number of daily Covid cases sky-rocketed to 93,045 – up 60% on last week – with London proving to be the hotspot for the Covid variant.

Regulations will also be changed to include a requirement to work from home wherever possible
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Image:

PA)

Around a quarter of cases recorded in the past 24 hours were in London, with the infection rate having risen fivefold since Omicron was first identified.

The new strain is expected to quickly become the dominant coronavirus strain in Britain, with just 3,201 new cases of Omicron officially registered yesterday – but that figure is thought to be vastly underestimated due to the time it takes to analyse positive samples.

The total number of Omicron cases confirmed in the UK currently stands at 14,909, but experts believe up to 400,000 people could be catching it every day.

Professor Neil Ferguson and his team at Imperial College London predict there could be around 3,000 daily Omicron deaths a day in January without further restrictions.

The alarming figures, much higher than the previous record of around 1,800 deaths in one day during the second wave of the pandemic, have prompted calls for more curbs in the New Year

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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