ASCL Cymru comment on disruption to education as coronavirus cases rise steeply in Wales

24/09/2021

Eithne Hughes, Director of ASCL Cymru, comments on the rising number of positive coronavirus cases across Wales and its effect on schools.

 
Commenting on the rising number of positive coronavirus cases across Wales and its effect on schools, Eithne Hughes, Director of ASCL Cymru, said:

“Much of Wales is currently seeing very high rates of Covid-19 infection, with parts of South Wales the highest in the UK, and this is inevitably having a huge knock-on impact in our schools.

“Many are reporting higher levels of student absence than they suffered at any point in the pandemic and this is being exacerbated by staff absences and a resulting chronic shortage of supply staff to provide cover. Many heads are reporting they have had to return to frontline teaching to ensure lessons take place and are having to work long into the night to carry out their leadership duties. This is exhausting and unsustainable for them.

“We warned before students returned for the autumn term that the Welsh government’s contingency guidance was inadequate, vague and open to interpretation and the situation has unravelled spectacularly in a matter of a few weeks as a result.

“The promised vaccinations programme for 12 to 15-year-olds is potentially the way that we can stem the inexorable rise in cases in our schools but the government has not given a timescale for when this might start or details of how it will work in practice. With every passing day, confidence among leaders and teachers that it will be achieved by the October half-term is nosediving.

“Schools need decisive and strong leadership from the government to calm very real fears that the situation in Wales is getting out of hand. They need firm guidance on when the vaccination programme will start and how and where students will get their jabs and we would also like to see other measures such as a public information campaign to encourage students to take home tests and government funding for high-quality ventilation systems in schools.”