January 6 start date for spring term in Swansea
Schools in Swansea are set to open two days later than planned at the start of next term to allow them to plan and prepare for the term ahead.
It means in Swansea the first day of the spring term in most schools will be Thursday January 6.
Swansea Council's Director of Education, Helen Morgan-Rees, has written to all parents and carers in the city outlining the changes following updated guidance from the Welsh Government due to the Omicron variant.
She said: "Our collective priority continues to be to minimise the disruption to education, and ensure where possible learners continue to receive in person learning, as well as protecting school staff and learners.
"The Welsh Government will be providing all schools with two planning days at the start of the new spring term, this will allow us time to assess staffing capacity and put the necessary measures in place to support the return of learners.
"However, schools will also be ensuring that they have robust plans in place to move to remote learning if needed. This could be for individual classes/year groups or possibly for the whole school, depending on staffing pressures.
"The planning days will also allow our secondary schools to plan for learners to safely sit their January exams. At the beginning of term these students will be prioritized for onsite learning and to ensure that the exams can take place safely.
"Given the current uncertainties around Omicron the Minister has asked schools to move to the 'very high' risk level on the schools' infection control framework.
"At a school level this could see staggered start and finish times from the start of the new term as an additional mitigation as well as the re-introduction of contact groups and potentially pausing after school / breakfast provision, or team sports where necessary.
"These decisions will be taken based on each individual school's risk assessment. Please support our headteachers when these difficult decisions have to be taken."
Following updated Welsh Government advice staff and pupils are being asked to take lateral flow tests (LFT) three times a week instead of two.
All staff and secondary-aged pupils should continue to use face coverings in communal areas and classrooms where physical distancing cannot be maintained as well as on school transport and this will continue to be kept under review.
The families of pupils entitled to free school meals will receive payments during the Christmas holidays and the additional two days while food parcels will be delivered to the homes of those who have chosen that option.