DENBIGHSHIRE County Council officials say 'safety is the top priority' as schools prepare to re-open in phases from June 29.

The main points of Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams' announcement earlier today were:

• That the term will be extended by a week, therefore ending on July 27.

• In the next academic year, beginning in September, the intention is that the autumn half-term break will be expanded to two weeks.

• In each school there will be a phased approach. Year groups will be split into cohorts with staggered starts, lessons and breaks.

• There will be much smaller classes, providing secure dedicated time with teachers and classmates.

Denbighshire County Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Cabinet Lead Member for Education, Children’s Services and Public Engagement, said: “The safety of our children, young people and our staff is a top priority and we would like to reassure parents and guardians that we will do everything it takes to create safe environments for when our pupils and students return.

“The Welsh Government has made it clear from the outset of coronavirus that schools will only re-open in Wales when it is safe to do so, but we recognise that some parents/ guardians may be still have concerns around the timing.

“A lot of work is going on in Denbighshire and across North Wales, to review all our education and school policies and procedures, to make sure they are fit for purpose for new arrangements to be put in place that will allow our schools to open safely.

“We will now consider the details of the announcement in great detail and we will work closely with schools, governing bodies and teaching unions to prepare for re-opening schools, with stringent social distancing measures being introduced in every school. There will be rigorous cleaning and hand hygiene procedures in place and we will ensure that schools have everything they need to operate safely. We await further guidance from Welsh Government in due course.

“Schools will provide information over the coming days and weeks about arrangements that will be put in place and steps that people must follow to ensure that the health and safety of all our pupils and staff are protected”.