SECONDARY schools & colleges will close in Wales a week early from tomorrow to stop the Covid spread, it was announced today, and there were calls for London to follow suit.
Classes for pupils ages 11 and above will move to online learning from Monday as part of a national effort to crack down on coronavirus before Christmas.
Education minister Kirsty Williams warned that it was not “an early Christmas present” for kids and they should carry on their education as normally as possible.
Schools were closed nationwide in March during the first wave of coronavirus – including primary schools.
And as it was warned that London could go into Tier 3 as early as next week, one Tory MP is said to have warned ministers that schools should shut in the capital to crack down on cases.
Health Minister Helen Whately is reported to have to told the MP she will “take it away” and look into it.
Boris Johnson has always stressed he will try to never shut schools across England again, saying too much learning time had been lost, which was vital for kids.
Ms Williams said today the shutdown was to combat the growing numbers of people going into hospital.
There were more than 1,900 new cases of coronavirus in Wales today, with 33 deaths.
The infection rate across Wales now stands at 380 infections per 100,000 people.
It comes after advice from the Chief Medical Officer that more needed to be done to combat the virus.
He demanded online learning “as soon as is practicable”.
But recognised that it was difficult for primary school kids and those at special schools to learn online, so they will remain open.
The Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has warned of more Covid restrictions to crack down on the virus, just weeks after their fire-break ended there.
Announcing the early school closures in Wales, Ms Williams said today: “The virus is putting our health service under significant and sustained pressure and it is important we all make a contribution to reduce its transmission.
“I can therefore confirm that a move to online learning should be implemented for secondary school pupils and college students from Monday next week.
Ms Williams that children should be at home and stressed this is “not an early Christmas holiday”.
Schools in England have been told they can take an inset day next Friday and finish term early for Christmas.
Schools Standards Minister Nick Gibb said the move mean will let staff have a “proper break” without having to “engage in the track and trace issues” on Christmas Eve.
Teachers are expected to be available for the first six days of the school holidays to help with contact tracing and informing families if they need to isolate.
Mr Gibb said earlier this week: “We are about to announce that inset days can be used on Friday December 18, even if an inset day had not been originally scheduled for that day.
“We want there to be a clear six days so that by the time we reach Christmas Eve staff can have a proper break without having to engage in the track and trace issues.”