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Education minister plans to scrap class bubbles after summer

WALES’ education minister has outlined plans to scrap classroom bubbles to ensure only a “proportionate” number of children have to self-isolate when a coronavirus case is recorded in a school or college.

With the summer holidays approaching, Jeremy Miles, speaking at the Welsh Government coronavirus briefing this afternoon, outlined his plans for what education in Wales will look like in September.

Mr Miles said discussions were taking place with the education sector, pupils and parents to put in place plans to avoid having “a disproportionate number of learners self-isolating.”

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“While class or year bubbles have played an important role over the last year, we need to ensure that settings distinguish between bubbles on the one hand and personal contact with cases on the other,” he said.

“There is a distinction I think to be drawn between the numbers of people which are the individual contacts of a particular case on the one hand, and an entire bubble on the other hand. I’m really keen to make sure that we don’t have a situation where schools conflate those two things because they are importantly very separate.

“I want to discuss as part of that set of framework discussions with our partners how we get to a place where that distinction is clear, and where we can use the Test, Trace and Protect system to further support schools in minimising the number of students that are asked to self-isolate.

“There is a reasonable level of variability across Wales in the approach which schools are taking in this respect and we want to make sure that we support schools to minimise the number of pupils that are self-isolating.”

Mr Miles was later asked for more detail on how this will be put into practice.

“What I’m very clear I want to do is to explore with our partners in the education system – teachers, learners, parents, and staff – about how we can make sure that the minimum number of pupils are being asked to self isolate consistent with the level of transmission,” he said.

“There are practical questions which go with that as you obviously expect and that’s exactly the kind of thing that we’ll be discussing with our partners over the coming weeks.”

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