THE WELSH Government has issued an update on when schools could resume face-to-face learning.

The Government said it is considering a number of measures to make schools more Covid secure, including the use of one way systems, consistent seating plans were possible and using suitable outdoor spaces.

It is also considering banning large group gatherings, such as morning assemblies, and the wearing of face coverings, including in class, will continue to be mandatory.

The Welsh Government has announced over £100m worth of funding to help make schools become more Covid secure.

Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said: "The current wave of the Covid-19 pandemic appears to be unfolding as projected in the modelling.

"Case numbers are increasing, and there are high levels of community transmission. This, alongside staff absences due to other illness, will continue to impact education provision over coming weeks.

"While data from Public Health Wales published just before Christmas showed that cases of coronavirus amongst children and young people aged 5-16 reduced in the weeks leading up to the Christmas break, this information must be treated with care, as should data over the holiday period. We will continue to monitor the data carefully as learners return to school."

He added: "We are providing schools with the option to operate staggered start and finish times as an additional mitigation should their risk assessment support this.

"While we anticipate periods of disruption to face-to-face learning for some over the next few weeks, we have reiterated to schools and colleges that any periods of remote learning should be kept to a minimum.

"Schools will also place a particular focus on supporting learners in exam years, children of critical workers and vulnerable children when reviewing and revising their contingency plans."

Colleges will continue working with a blended learning approach to ensure all students are able to access face-to-face learning.

A number of changes have been made to regular testing, contact tracing and self-isolation arrangements over recent weeks which will help support learning in schools and colleges.

These include:

• All staff and secondary age learners and above are now strongly advised to use (and to report the results of) Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) three times a week as a method of identifying asymptomatic cases. It is also important for staff and learners to do so prior to their return to school or college this week.

• Children and young people aged 5-17 and fully vaccinated adults are now asked to take LFTs every day for seven days if they are identified as a contact of a positive Covid-19 case. This is known as ‘Daily Contact Testing’. We have made additional LFT kits available to primary schools across Wales this week to help support this change.

• Those who test positive must self-isolate for seven days. On day six of isolation, they should take a lateral flow test and another test 24 hours later. If both results are negative, it is likely they are not infectious.

• Schools and colleges are able to order and distribute one pack of 7 LFTs to each member of staff and secondary aged learner and above on a weekly basis so these individuals should not struggle to access tests.

• This term we have moved to a nasal only LFT for use in schools. We have also reduced the bureaucracy and administration associated with the distribution of tests to make is easier for individuals to access tests and for schools and colleges to administer them.