THE Education Minister has addressed concerns raised by North Wales parents that school returns may be coming too soon as the region continues to record high rates of death and infections from COVID-19.

Minister Kirsty Williams took questions from the Leader about concerns raised by families that the country is easing restrictions – despite recording almost 1,500 coronavirus infections in the last month alone and deaths in the North Wales region recorded by Betsi Cadwaladr health board continuing to rise daily.

Some have said it is far too early for children to safely return to whatever the new normal is set to be in schools across the country.

Ms Williams said: “I would wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere condolences to those families that have lost a loved one in North Wales during this crisis, there has not been a single part of Wales that has not been affected.

“To those parents, I would say that we are taking a further three and a half weeks before offering the opportunity for check ins so that is further time to analyse what the data is telling us, what the infection rates are doing and hospitalisation rates are doing.

The latest figures show that, as of June 3, North Wales returned the highest proportion of new cases of the virus.

Data shows the region has confirmed a total of 2,876 instances of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic – with 283 people sadly losing their lives in the region.

Ms Williams said: “If we have any concerns that any of those indicators are not satisfactory then we will not be proceeding with this plan. But, at this stage, all the indicators are telling us that we expect an improving situation.”

The minister adds that education providers need to take advantage of the summer months and warm temperatures.

She said: “We can have more of our children outside, we can have windows open and greater ventilation. We need to grasp these opportunities that the summer months offer us.

“A big concern for me is making sure we have had a period of time where testing, tracing and protecting has had a chance to get up and running.”

Ms Williams says plans would mean children would begin this phase of returning with over a month of track and trace data to “prove itself” and assist the Welsh Government as it continues to make decisions.