Schools in Wales will remain closed until the end of January.

Kirsty Williams, Wales' education minister, gave an update this morning, ahead of today's press conference.

She said: "The coronavirus pandemic has reached a significant point in Wales. The first minister will take a press conference this afternoon, but before then, I wanted to update you on what this means for education.

"As a government, we have decided to bring the decision making on schools and colleges into line with our three-week review timetable.

"That means that we will next review the situation on January 29 and remote learning will continue to at least then.

"Unless we see a significant reduction in transmission before January 29, then remote learning would have to continue until our next review which coincides with the February half term.

"Vulnerable children and children of critical workers will have access to their usual school or college and during this period we will work together to look at all the possibilities for a phased and safe return of some pupils, such as those studying for qualifications or the youngest children who find distance learning the most difficult."

Ms Williams said this action was being taken as the new variant was more infectious and is leading to increased numbers of people being hospitalised with Covid.

She added: "Schools and colleges have been safe and secure environment throughout the pandemic and that continues to be the case.

"However, the latest TAC report is clear on education's contribution.

"We know that school and college settings can contribute to wider social mixing outside the education environment and right now, we all have to play our part in suppressing this virus.

"I know these times are hard but please remember this pandemic will end.

"Our wonderful schools and colleges will soon be full with the sounds of happy children and learners as they always were before this cruel virus took hold.

"I cannot wait for that moment, and I'm sure that you feel the same."

"But until then it is more important than ever that we continue to follow the rules and stay at home.

"Thank you for all that you're doing and together, we'll keep Wales safe."

Wales' lockdown restrictions are to be tightened and the period they cover extended, Mark Drakeford will reveal today.

Mr Drakeford will warn that the new strain of Covid, which experts say is up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the original virus, has now taken a firm foothold in Wales – citing North Wales in particular.

Wales will remain at Alert Level Four following the announcement, which is due to take place this lunchtime (Friday, January 8).