EDUCATION chiefs on Anglesey have earmarked February 25 to start the process of re-opening schools to some pupils.
With Gwynedd Council also in talks over a planned reopening that week, it follows a Welsh Government announcement that children aged three to seven would be free to return after the February half-term.
The move marks a partial return of face-to-face primary teaching following several weeks of lockdown and distanced learning.
The leader of Anglesey Council recently announced they would not re-open schools until it was felt safe to do so, following stubbornly high transmission rates on the island.
On Thursday (11th February) the authority revealed that while any plans are subject to change, a phased return of foundation phase pupils is currently pencilled in from Thursday, February 25.
With the aim being for all Foundation Phase pupils to be back in their classrooms by Wednesday, March 3rd “at the latest”, distance learning will continue until children are back in school.
Blamed on “creeping complacency” in both the workplace and social interaction, Ynys Môn bucked the Welsh trend in being the only county to show an actual increase in cases during the last week of January, leading to council chiefs issuing a plea on residents to respond to the “extremely concerning” situation.
Seven day Covid-19 case rates, up to January 30, fell in every Welsh council area apart from Anglesey, where the rate of new cases per 100,000 people rose from 139.9 to 141.3.
Ranking as the third highest in Wales, behind Wrexham and Flintshire, latest figures show 171.3 people per 100,000 population testing positive for the virus in the seven days up to February 6.
A spokesman added, “More and more positive Coronavirus cases on Anglesey have been linked to transmission in-between homes in recent weeks. Much of this had been caused by family or friends visiting each other socially.
“It is also vital that children avoid mixing with other children outside their household or support bubble.
“This applies to under 11s as well as over 11s, and where children are in the same ‘school or class bubble’.
“Given the current high number of coronavirus cases on the Island, Anglesey Council has made it clear that it will take all reasonable steps to protect the health of pupils and school staff.
“The arrangements noted above are therefore still under review and subject to change.
“Schools will provide further details and confirm any specific arrangements in due course.
“In the meantime, all schools will continue to provide distance learning to all learners.”
Neighbouring Gwynedd Council, meanwhile, says that talks are ongoing with schools on the phased opening during that week.
A spokesman for the authority said, “Gwynedd’s Education Authority has met with headteachers this week to ensure they are fully aware of the latest development and our officers continue to offer help and advice regarding the planned phased opening for foundation phase pupils during the week beginning 22 February.
“We will continue to monitor the situation during that period, as we await further guidance from the Welsh Government in the days ahead.”