WALES' chief medical officer said reopening schools this month was "a second best option" and he would have preferred to wait until August.

Speaking at the daily ministerial media briefing from Cardiff today, Dr Frank Atherton said opening the schools on June 29 for a short period before the summer break was not his first choice.

He said: "When I was discussing this with the education minister, my preferred option would have been to re-open the schools perhaps towards the end of summer in August, to give us a little bit more time, but I understand that was not attractive to the unions.

"So we've got a second-best option, which is we're going to re-open the schools towards the end of June for a short period of time with very different arrangements so that can be done safely. I think we can do that safely and we do need to monitor and track it."

Yesterday, education minister Kirsty Williams outlined the government’s next phase for schools in Wales leading to ‘the new normal in September’.

All children will have the opportunity to “check in, catch up, prepare for summer and September”.

It is proposed that all schools will start the next phase on June 29, with the term extended by a week, therefore ending on July 27.

She said: “June 29 means there will have been one full month of test, trace and protect, which will continue to expand. I can also announce that teachers will be a priority group in our new antibody-testing programme. As we continue to keep Wales safe, this approach will be critical."

Teaching unions expressed concerns after Kirsty Williams statement.

David Evans Wales Secretary of the National Education Union said that opening schools this month was "too much too soon".

Mr Evans said: “It is too much, too soon and whilst splitting year groups into cohorts with staggered starts, lessons and breaks may mean that, at most, a third of pupils may be present at any one time, in the larger secondary schools that will mean hundreds of pupils on site with all the logistical difficulties that will bring in respect of social distancing, cleaning of premises, travel implications, availability of PPE and threats of transmission of the virus.

“Whilst primary schools tend to be smaller, it could still lead to a significant number of students being present across all age groups. We know that factors such as social distancing are virtually impossible the younger the child. “Increasing operations for all has significant implications for staff. There will be an expectation that all employees will be required to return but teaching professionals and support colleagues are representative of society. There will be members of ours who fall within the clinically extremely vulnerable category and will have received letters requiring them to stay home. There will be members who live with family who fall into that category and cannot be exposed to risk."