THERE is not enough times for schools in Wales to safely prepare to reopen on June 29.

That is the view of Unison, the largest union in the education sector, which is questioning whether the date remains a realistic and safe date for the re-opening of schools given the delay in providing guidance and the Chief Medical Officer’s preference that Welsh schools remain closed until August.

The Welsh government published operational guidance for schools to plan for pupils to return from June 29 to “check in, catch up and prepare for summer and September”.

But the union feels the guidelines do not provide enough lead in time for schools to safely manage the risk of the further spread of Covid-19, said the union.

Rosie Lewis, Unison Cymru Wales schools lead officer, said: “Schools only have two and half weeks to digest this operational guidance and put plans in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the workforce and pupils across Wales, and we are far from convinced this is long enough.

“Frankly, we should never have been in a position where a date for schools opening was announced ahead of the guidance being published.

“We are already seeing a number of local authorities taking matters into their own hands and pushing ahead with plans for schools opening.

“How is this even possible when the guidance has only been made available today?

“The last thing we need in the current crisis is 22 different varieties of returning to schools across Wales.

“You only need to look across the border to England to see how challenging the opening of schools has been and the complexities involved."

Launching the guidance today, Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “The health and wellbeing of learners and staff is, as always, our primary concern. Schools, colleges and other settings are working hard to plan for the return of their learners and to put the appropriate safeguards in place. The guidance published today will support them in doing this."

Last week, Wales' chief medical officer Frank Atherton said the best option, in his opinion, was for schools in Wales to reopen in August.

He called the restricted or phased opening of schools in June "second-best".

Ms Lewis added: “Given the Chief Medical Officer’s announcement last week that his preference was for schools to open in August, and the ongoing commitment the Minister has made to the five key principles for the next phase, we are increasingly concerned that 29 June is just too soon.

“Unison will consider the guidance in the coming days and if we feel it does not provide the adequate protections for the workforce, we will have no option but to oppose the re-opening of schools.

“This is not the time to be complacent. Getting the next steps right is more important than getting them done quickly.”