CHILDREN had the opportunity to put questions to Education Minister Kirsty Williams.

The children raised concerns about social distancing when they returned to school, missing seeing their teachers, being able to play team sports, moving from primary to high school in September, and how the measures will affect their exams.

Ms Williams answered the questions, made by video and in writing, during the Welsh Government media briefing today (Wednesday, June 24).

On Monday, schools in Wales will open to some degree to "give every child the chance to check in and have some sessions".

Ms Williams started by saying "we will be the only UK country where pupils will get the opportunity to get back into the classroom before the summer holidays".

She said she hoped parents would take advantage of the opportunity to have their children have some contact with school.

She said: "I want to assure parents schools and staff have worked really hard to ensure the return to school is as careful and safe as possible.

"If parents do not feel it is right to return, I would urge them to have a conversations with headteachers about any extra support they can give."

Ms Williams added: "Many of our schools have remained open and have provided support for children. We've been clear with the PPE needs for school staff.

"If parents don't feel it's right for their children at this time, they should not send their children in.

"As we understand more about the disease, children are very often spared and do not get as sick as adults. It's about balancing risks of the illness and the effect of not being in school.

"It was not acceptable for me that we did nothing until September."

The minister thanked everyone involved in allowing schools to re-open.

She said: "The 2m rule has remained the same in Wales and that is the best way to keep people in Wales safe.

"Even if we can move to 1m social distancing rules, that still presents challenges in getting pupils back in school and it won't be 'back to normal'."

On pupils missing out on education ahead of key qualifications, Ms Williams said: "We are working with exam boards and regulators to make sure pupils are not adversely affected by the coronavirus. This may include changes to the content of exams or changes to exam timetables."

Ms Williams added it was important these changes are made before the end of term so teachers can plan properly from September.

On introducing group projects and team sports for children, Ms Williams said: "Where appropriate, all children should be offered this."

She added that schools in Wales have been working hard to implement social distancing, and said that outdoor activities should be available.

On the disruption to pupils' transition to new schools, Ms Williams told the children that some schools are holding virtual transition days, while other Year 6 pupils can go and visit their secondary schools this term.

Ms Williams said that she was ruling nothing in or out as to how schools will function in September, whether that be fully re-opening or a continuation of blended learning where children will be taught online.

At the moment it is up to parents when their child returns, but that will be reviewed.

She reiterated that the Welsh Government would be "guided by the science."

"We will be working hard to maximise the amount of children in school and minimise the disruption to learners", she added.

The minister added that she accepted the impact of lockdown on children's mental health and well-being.

She added: "Mental health and well-being is a priority for me and for the Welsh Government. We recognise the effect the lockdown is having on their mental health, and that is why we wanted to give them the opportunity to go back to school."

The minster also addressed one boy's concern that he would not be able to get to school if there were no school buses running.

She said: "We will work with the transport minister to maximise the ways children can get to school. But the best option is to use active travel (walking, cycling, etc)."