The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the most disadvantaged pupils will be “significant”, Monmouthshire’s full council has heard.

Schools have been shut since the start of lockdown in Wales, and this week the Welsh Government announced that they will be reopening on June 29.

However, Will McLean, the council’s chief officer for children and young people said there will be a significant impact on disadvantaged pupils.

Speaking in a full council meeting yesterday (June 4), Mr McLean said: “It is likely that this significant gap in face-to-face learning and teaching will have an impact on learners’ progress.

“That will be for all learners, but the risk is clearly that this would be a gap that is more significant for some of our disadvantaged group.

“We are aware of that and we are doing all we can to support those groups, which is absolutely critical.”

Cllr Tudor Thomas asked about the council’s strategy to stop free school meal students from falling further behind as a result of the coronavirus.

Mr McLean said: “We clearly have to work out more on that strategy

“I think the impact of Covid-19 will be significant.

“I think the repair work that we need to do with some of those vulnerable learners will be significant because their time away from face-to-face learning, the support, the wellbeing and so on.

“However hard our schools have worked, and they’ve worked unbelievably hard to do that, it’s still not going to be the same as seeing those children, having eyes on them and being able to support them.

“But we have to recognise the impact of being away from school for such an extended period of time.”

Schools in Monmouthshire are now preparing to reopen safely. No more than one third of pupils are expected in schools at any given time.