Councils in Wales are considering whether to close their schools early for Christmas to reduce the risk of coronavirus infections over the holidays.

In recent weeks unions have called for schools across the UK to be shut on December 11, one week ahead of the planned end of term date of December 18.

Options being looked at vary from closing one week early on December 11 to shutting two or three days before the pencilled in date, Wales Online reported.

While First Minister Mark Drakeford has said he wants schools in Wales to stay open, councils have been in talks over the last few days with the Welsh Government, headteachers and the Welsh Local Government Association about moving all teaching online.

"Everything is under review," said one council leader.

Councils in Wales are in talks about closing early

The moves comes as some councils in England have announced that they will shut their schools early, including some of those in Greater Manchester.

Sue Walker, education director of Merthyr Council, said: "We are having meetings with the Welsh Local Government Association.

"We have got to let parents know if our schools are closing early. There is a lot of concern."

Carmarthenshire Council are in "regular dialogue with the Welsh Government and will make decisions based on consideration of all information available."

Ceredigion, Conwy, Caerphilly and Bridgend councils all said they were waiting for guidance from the Welsh Government in relation to the end of the school term.

Lessons could be taken online a week before term is due to finish

Cardiff Council said: "(Early) closure would be down to a Welsh Government decision."

Powys County Council said it has no plans to close schools early for Christmas unless they are are unable to deliver the curriculum effectively due to the number of teachers isolating.

Pembrokeshire Council said it had not made any decisions to end term early, while Monmouthshire Council said: "At this stage, there is no plan to end face to face term early."

Councillor Andrew Morgan, leader of Rhondda Cyon Taf Council, is in favour of shutting schools in his local authority two or three days early.

One headteacher, who did not want to be named but who supports schools staying open for face-to-face classes, said parents might keep their children at home regardless.

"I have mixed feelings to be honest," they said.

Discussions are ongoing about clearing classrooms early

"Many of my parents have asked if they can keep children home that last week so it's complicated."

Although the Welsh Government could, in theory, veto early school closures, it would have to do this by stepping in to remove a local education authority's powers, as it does when they are put in special measures.

That is a last resort step and highly unlikely to happen.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has already said it is not his intention that schools shut early and that keeping them open has been a priority through the pandemic.

The Welsh Government added in a statement: "We have had regular dialogue with local authorities and unions throughout the pandemic and these discussions continue.

"Our priority remains ensuring that all children and young people's education continues with as little disruption as possible."

Dilwyn Roberts-Young, general secretary of teaching union UCAC, has written to education Minister Kirsty Williams calling for schools to shut on December 11.

"The fact that pupils and students will continue to attend an educational setting a week before Christmas Day is raising serious concerns for our members," his letter read.

"If a pupil/student tested positive with Covid-19 during the last week of term, it would mean that the whole bubble would have to self-isolate, preventing them from joining their extended family for Christmas.

"The same could be true for the education workforce.

"In addition, Test, Trace and Protect could continue to contact school and colleges leaders on Christmas Day, which is totally unacceptable."