PUPILS returning to their classrooms will bring about an ‘inevitable’ rise of COVID-19, says the First Minister, as Wales finds itself back in a ‘serious’ situation.

Speaking from the latest press conference in Cardiff, Mark Drakeford said how going back to school will almost certainly see cases of the virus rise across the country due to the increased mixing of youngsters.

He said: “I think it is just inevitable that we will see some impact from it [returning to school].

“We have been following very carefully the experience in Scotland, where schools have already been back for three weeks, and they did see a rise in cases. More people getting together of any age, then cases will rise.

“Things are different this term than they would have been at the start of term this point last year, primarily being vaccination.”

Mr Drakeford said over 90 per cent of teachers in Wales have now been fully vaccinated – compared to last September when the majority of school staff would not have become eligible for a jab until later in the year.

He adds that investment has also been pumped into increased cleaning regimes across schools in Wales.

The minister said a key priority for the Welsh Government is to make sure as many children are in school and there is less disruption than last year.

He said: "Our young people have suffered enormously with the disruption to their education. We look at all options, we will discuss any ideas with the education sector."

The Leader:

Pupils went back to primary and secondary school in Wales this week after the six-week summer break.

The Labour MS went added that, from this September, more decisions will be made at local authority level – using knowledge and experience from teachers and staff facing this pandemic on the frontline.

The minister’s stern warnings came as the Labour leader of the country said that Wales finds itself in a 'serious' position moving towards the winter months again – where the virus has the advantage of spreading indoors.

Mr Drakeford says that Swansea University models suggest that things will get worse over the next few weeks.

This reflection is already being witnessed locally as instances of the virus being reported across North Wales have steadily risen in recent weeks – with dozens of new cases being reported daily from our six counties.

Mr Drakeford said nothing is ‘off the table’ yet when it comes to beating this virus – including further lockdown orders.

The situation will continue to be monitored, the first minister said, adding that his cabinet members will discuss the next steps this week before revealing the next part of the COVID-19 plan publicly.

He says there are "many things" that can be done short of reintroducing lockdown measures to relieve these pressures - but said he could not rule out tougher measures like lockdown if cases continue to soar.

Further updates will be given next Friday, September 17, reporting on the outcome of the latest three-week review of the COVID situation in Wales.