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Plans to introduce contact groups in universities and colleges

Written by on 30th June 2021

Jeremy Miles has today outlined further plans to introduce contact groups for adult learners in Higher and Further Education.

Following news from the coronavirus press briefing on Monday, where the Minister for Education and Welsh Language set out plans for education settings in the autumn, today he provided more information on plans to minimise disruption in post-16 education and training.

The measures, part of the new framework approach, would be applied in Higher and Further Education, work-based and community learning settings.

The plans aim to align adult education contact groups with the most current social restrictions set by Welsh Government. Based on the current restrictions in place, contact groups would be modelled on more than one group of up to 6, or single groups of up to 30, depending on the setting and room capacity. The education institution will also need to conduct risk assessments and meet the requirement to take reasonable measures to stop the transmission of the virus.

The Minister also unveiled plans to move away from the 2 metre social distancing model for university students, adult and part-time learners in the learning environment. The plans aim to allow more in-person learning, provided there is low or moderate risk.

If restrictions in wider society continue to be eased, the same restrictions would apply for adult education in universities, colleges and community learning.

Jeremy Miles said:

“Our guiding principle has to be a move towards education being enabled to operate as ‘normally’ as possible in the autumn, so we are planning on the basis that adult education will operate in step with what adults can do in wider society.

“Contact groups for adult learners will mean we can have more in-person learning and this must be our priority to rebalance the harms to education. We may still see close contacts asked to self-isolate if Test, Trace, Protect contact tracers deem they should. We will work with our partners in the coming weeks to develop the framework and provide further detailed guidance on how these groups will work.

“I am very grateful to all our our education staff who have worked tirelessly to support learners throughout the pandemic and who have helped ensure their settings are as Covid-safe as possible.

“We must all remember that although we are able to do more things, it is important we continue to keep Wales safe by self-isolating when unwell, accessing regular testing, supporting Test Trace Protect, wearing face coverings in indoor public areas, remembering to wash our hands and thinking about good ventilation.