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Commissioner’s response to latest schools announcement

4 January 2021

Responding to Welsh Government’s announcement that all schools and colleges will move to online learning until 18 January, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales said:

“The new variant of the virus and the continuing high levels of infection in Wales is understandably causing concern and confusion. We need urgent clarity on this new strain and its impact on school communities so that decisions on when school buildings can safely re-open can be based on facts.

“We know that any decision to switch to online learning for the majority, even for short periods, carries social, educational and mental health risks for children and young people, and we need steps to mitigate those risks and minimise the impact across Wales both immediately and longer-term. Children’s views and experiences must play a central role in this.

“From listening to thousands of children’s views myself, we know that this pandemic has amplified the systematic disadvantages facing some of our communities. We must not allow this to continue and urgent action remains to address the issues exacerbated by school building closures.

“There is no effective substitute for face-to-face learning; I proposed to the First Minister last month that vaccinating school staff would protect face-to-face learning and lead to much less disruption in schools. I repeat that call today.”