Adhering to relevant government advice
Until the 9 November Wales was in a ‘firebreak’ lockdown. There are now new rules in place and no regional differences in guidance or rules. Gatherings of more than four people who do not all live together are not permitted. However, gatherings of more than four people are permitted to ‘enable any activities specifically organised for the development or wellbeing of children’.
Theatre, museums and galleries opening
The Welsh government has re-published guidance for the phased re-opening of culture and heritage destinations.
Currently ‘theatres and concert halls are still required to be closed, except where requested or authorised by the Welsh Ministers or a local authority; or the premises is used to broadcast without an audience or to rehearse for such a broadcast.’ The Welsh government has published Rehearsing, performing and taking part in the performing arts: guidance for a phased return.
Other venues, including museums and galleries are allowed to be open subject to following the social distancing rules.
The absolute maximum number of people that do not all live together who can gather together in these venues is four (not including any children aged under 11).
Face coverings must be worn in all indoor public places. Children under 11 do not have to wear face coverings. Face coverings need to be used by persons aged 11 and over in areas to which members of the public have access. Education and childcare settings are not public places.
Activities: number of participants
Some activities are permitted where numbers are capped at 15 indoors and 30 outdoors. Examples of activities for which more than four people who do not all live together may gather include:
- sports and exercise activities
- educational activities
- organised activities for children
- support groups and other groups to support people’s health or wellbeing, such as breastfeeding classes or parent and toddler groups.
The numbers are capped at 15 participants if they take place indoors, or 30 if outdoors. This number does not include any children aged under 11 or people who are working. The number of children aged under 11 who can gather is not limited in law.
Teachers can travel across the border from England to Wales to attend work.
From 9 November, all schools returned to full operations using the operational guidance for schools as a framework to ensure they remain as safe as possible. The guidance states:
‘Supply teachers, peripatetic teachers and/or other temporary staff can move between schools. They should ensure they minimise contact and maintain as much distance as possible from other staff and learners.’
Many colleagues already regularly deliver arts and cultural activities in schools and could be defined as peripatetic teachers. For some venue based colleagues who do not already deliver outreach services in schools this could be an area to consider for delivery in the coming months.
Group size and social distancing in schools
The guidance asks schools to ‘minimise contact between all individuals wherever possible. For younger learners the emphasis will be on forming groups of learners and ensuring separation of those groups, and for older learners it will be on social/physical distancing.’
Schools still have a responsibility to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum:
‘Schools must consider how to best implement this and do everything possible within their own context to minimise contacts and mixing while delivering a broad and balanced curriculum.’
The guidance accepts that the groups of learners are likely to be a whole year group at secondary school level, and a whole class at primary level:
‘In secondary schools, particularly in the older age groups at Key Stages 4 and 5, the contact groups are likely to need to be the size of a year group to enable schools to deliver the full range of curriculum subjects and for learners to receive specialist teaching. If this can be achieved with small groups, they are recommended. At primary school, and in the younger years at secondary (Key Stage 3), schools maybe able to implement smaller groups the size of a full class.’
The guidance states non-residential visits can go ahead:
‘Non-overnight domestic educational visits can resume in the autumn term. These should be done in adherence with protective measures, such as COVID-secure measures in places at the destination. Visits should be thoroughly risk assessed to ensure they are done safely. As part of the risk assessment, schools will need to consider what control measures need to be used and ensure they have taken into account wider advice on visiting indoor and outdoor venues.’
Activities run for the development and well-being of children, such as drama classes, parent and toddler groups and youth groups can run outdoors and indoors, subject to the rules around the numbers of people for indoor and outdoor gatherings (15 indoors, 30 outdoors, see above guidance). Organisers have a duty to take all reasonable measures to ensure that these activities take place in a way that is Covid-secure.