Public sector union UNISON is in strong opposition to widening access to schools from June 29 and has called for the Minister to urgently review her decision.

The call comes after the union's full consideration of Welsh Government’s Keep Education Safe: Operational guidance for schools and settings published Jun 10.

UNISON has drafted workplace guidance and following a full assessment believes the guidance does not provide enough direction or clarity and there is not enough time to ensure the safety of staff and pupils in schools by late June.

Jonathan Lewis, UNISON schools forum Chair, said: “UNISON is not prepared to compromise the safety of teaching assistants, cleaners, caterers, caretakers or administrative staff in schools.

“We have considered the operational guidance and there simply doesn’t contain enough detail, particularly within the short time constraints.

“Of course school support staff want to get back to work in schools, but we cannot be expected to take unnecessary risks to fulfil that within a few short weeks.

“Robust planning takes time. We will continue to work with Welsh government, local authorities and other stakeholders to plan and assess a return to schools, but it cannot be a rushed job.

“We are confident thorough planning could take place over the summer in time for the start of term in September. We urge the Education Minister to take a sensible approach, in line with the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, and postpone re-opening until later in the year.”

Rosie Lewis, UNISON schools lead, said: “We’ve assessed the guidance and UNISON is absolutely clear that we cannot support the reopening of schools at the end of June. The risks are too high.

“We don’t believe there will be enough cleaning staff to fulfil the mammoth task of keeping schools clean. We don’t think enough school support staff will be available to allow safe staffing levels for the extended week.

“The operational guidance around social distancing and who is clinically vulnerable is in conflict with other government guidance. We are yet to see any guidance around the antibody testing and wider roll out of the test, trace and protect system. The list goes on.

“We are inundated with queries from school support staff from across Wales who are anxious about the Minister’s proposals.

“It is crucial that staff and parents are confident about children returning to schools, and it’s fairly clear that the rush to get back later in June is not supporting that.

“I am no longer convinced the Minister is putting wellbeing at the heart of her strategy and we are calling for her to urgently review these timescales and work with trade unions to reopen schools in September.”

Education Minister Kristy Williams wrote an open letter to all school staff in Wales.

In the letter, shared online and in a video posted from her Twitter channel on Friday afternoon, the Minister said: "Thank you for all that you have done, and are continuing to do, in supporting our children and young people through these challenging times.

"As you will know, schools across Wales are opening up to the majority of pupils from Monday, June 29.

"By that date, we will have had a full month of Wales’s ‘Test, Trace and Protect’ programme.

"By ensuring we have a check-in, catch-up and prepare period at the end of this term and start blending face-to-face and online learning, we are doing our absolute best by our learners.

"I am sure that you will have already heard from your head-teacher about their safe and structured plans for this period.

"Many heads - indeed many teachers, staff and parents - have been in touch with me over the last couple of weeks to share their plans and ideas.

"I am grateful for the dedication and innovation shown by so many of you.

"I have said that our decision making will always be guided by the latest scientific and public health advice.

"This advice makes clear the advantages of using time in the summer, and in particular the warm weather, to open schools to more pupils and teachers.

"To be blunt, we have to be prepared for the possibility of a second wave of the disease later in the year.

"We hope that does not happen, but it is only right that we prepare.

"At these times we have seen a lot of disinformation, but I want to be clear with you.

Our expectation is that a maximum of a third of pupils will be in school at any one time - many schools will see fewer pupils than that.

"There will be staggered starts, breaks and finishes.

"Local authorities, as the employers and statutory providers of education, already have plans in place regarding safe transport, lunchtimes and supporting head teachers with any employment matters.

"I know that many of you will be slightly wary about a return to school. I completely understand.

"This has been, and continues to be, a stressful time.

"Many of us will know people who have been ill, or have lost someone. I certainly do.

"It has been a time of anguish and agony for people right across Wales."