Coronavirus (COVID-19) Latest Education Information

The First Minister for Wales has announced a short sharp ‘firebreak’ period to come into effect at 6pm on Friday, 23rd October until Monday, 9th November 2020. This is to try and help regain control of Coronavirus in Wales and prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed.

With regards to Schools and Education during this period, the following has been confirmed:

• Primary Schools and Special schools will reopen as normal after the half-term break on Monday, 2nd November

• Years 7 and 8 in Secondary Schools will also return on Monday, 2nd November, as well as provision for learners taking exams in November

• Years 9, 10 and 11 will access remote learning

• Teachers are expected to continue to work from schools

• College students will continue their learning from home for the week beginning Monday, 2nd November

• Childcare settings will remain open

• Informal childcare is permitted under the regulations e.g. family support

• Free School Meal direct payments will continue for all eligible pupils who cannot attend schools for ‘firebreak’ or self-isolation reasons

• Schools can accommodate the most vulnerable children from Monday, 2nd November), but we are awaiting further guidance from Welsh Government on this

• You are permitted to travel for Education and childcare purposes

Councillor Joanne Collins, the Council’s Executive Member for Education says:

“We continue to work closely and positively with all our schools and education settings on the challenge of supporting our children and young people to continue learning through the Coronavirus Pandemic. Our teaching and school support staff, together with Local Authority colleagues, have been dedicated to making sure there is provision for all learners since the outbreak began, and we will continue to do this in line with the latest Welsh Government regulations.

“I am pleased that the Welsh Government has carefully considered any further impact on learners at this time and that the continuation of education throughout this ‘firebreak’ period has remained a top priority.”

For more information about the ‘firebreak’ go to - https://gov.wales/coronavirus-firebreak-frequently-asked-questions#section-53247

Operating Schools around Coronavirus

We continue to work closely with schools to safely and effectively provide learning for our children and young people.  

Schools participate in the Test Trace Protect system which means that learner groups and school staff are sometimes required to self-isolate where a case is confirmed within their learner group.

The following schools currently have classes/year groups affected: 

Date

School

Action Taken

 08/10/20

 

Bryn Bach Primary School, Tredegar

Morning nursery pupils asked to self-isolate for 14 days following a pupil testing positive.

09/10/20

The River Centre 3 - 16 Learning Community Secondary Campus

School temporarily closed for 2 weeks due to a high level of self-isolation amongst staff

 12/10/20

Roseheyworth Rd Campus (Abertillery Learning Community)

Reception/Year 1 pupils & 4 members of staff asked to self-isolate after staff member tests positive.

14/10/20Tredegar Comprehensive School

Due to an impact of staffing the school has closed to years 7, 8, 9 and 10 until 2nd November.

School remains open for Year 11 pupils.

19/10/20Six Bells Nursery (Abertillery Learning Community)

39 Nursery pupils and 2 members of staff required to self-isolate.

19/10/20Tredegar Comprehensive School

Two pupils at Tredegar Comprehensive School have received positive tests for COVID-19. The following have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

• All Year 9 pupils to extend their self-isolation to 27/10/20, with the exception of 9/3
• Y7/1 (34 pupils)

19/10/10Ebbw Fawr Learning Community Secondary Phase

Two Year 7 pupils tested positive and the following have been  asked to self-isolate for 14 days from 16th October 2020.

• The class group (28 pupils), along with an additional 4 pupils

Currently no staff contacts identified.

20/10/20Ystruth Primary School

The following have been asked to self-isolate after a pupil tested positive.

• 28 Year 4 pupils
• 1 Learning Support Assistant
• 1 Teacher

20/10/20Tredegar Comprehensive School

Closed until after the half-term break. Will open for permitted year groups on Monday, 2nd November.

 

 

 

 

In all instances of confirmed cases amongst a learner group, parents of those children needing to self-isolate will be contacted directly by their school and updates will also be posted on our website and social media channels. Arrangements remain in place for remote learning, and schools will issue more information on this to families affected.

Remember - only the pupil is required to self-isolate as a precaution, family members and siblings do not need to stay at home, unless symptoms develop.

Procedures are already in place within all Blaenau Gwent schools to limit group numbers and pupil contact, coupled with enhanced cleaning regimes. There is no need for anyone who has not been contacted to self-isolate or be unduly concerned.

You can find more advice about self-isolation at - https://gov.wales/self-isolation-stay-home-guidance-households-possible-coronavirus

All residents are encouraged to remain alert to Covid-19 and continue to follow the latest national guidance to help combat the spread of the virus.

School staff remain vigilant to pupils displaying any symptoms, and are ready to take appropriate action. Parents, carers and guardians can support this by remaining alert and ensuring that children do not attend school if they develop any potential symptoms, however mild.

Should require information on childcare available within your area, along with more information on applying for childcare places, please contact the Family Information Service on 08000 323339. Please be advised that childcare providers will only allocate places to children that are not symptomatic or self-isolating.

Covid Secure Schools

Each school will differ in terms of layout and arrangements for its learners, so please make sure that you look out for updates from your child’s school for the latest information.

We have worked with schools to agree a number of key principles for the whole school re-opening. These include:

• All schools have a Covid Secure Risk Assessment in place

• There is full flexibility for staggered start and finish times to allow for social distancing – look out for details on this from your school

• Full risk assessments for members of staff where necessary in line with official guidance

• All schools will participate in the Welsh Government’s official Test Trace Protect Strategy which tracks cases of Covid-19 in the community and schools will communicate the importance of this. Schools will be keeping appropriate records to share with trained contact tracers if required

• If your child or anyone in the household has symptoms of Covid-19 please DO NOT send them to school and arrange for a free test through the Government’s Test Trace Protect (TTP) system - https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/guidance-accordion/test-trace-protect-coronavirus/

• Recognised symptoms are:

- A high temperature
- A new continuous cough
- A loss of taste or smell

• If your child develops recognised symptoms whilst at school, they will be isolated appropriately and you will be asked to pick them up immediately. Please make sure your school has your up to date emergency contacts

• Any positive cases identified in our schools will be managed through Public Health Wales’ robust procedures, in partnership with the Council and the school, and parents will be communicated with as necessary.

• School attendance is compulsory and whilst the expectation from Welsh Government is that no fixed penalty notices will be issued for the first half-term the legislation has not changed. It is vitally important for children and young people to attend school to make learning progress to realise their full potential. In partnership, we will work with parents and schools to improve school attendance and the position on penalty notices will be reviewed after the first half-term. We will work with parents and schools over any concerns.

• Parents/carers must not attend at a school (other than dropping or picking up children) without a pre-arranged appointment & should not gather or linger at the school entrance/exit

• Catering will be provided on site for those who want it. This could be cooked meals or a packed lunch style, your school will let you know more. Where possible pupils will remain with their learner groups for meal/snack times

• Breakfast clubs will not operate for the remainder of 2020. This will be reviewed for the start of 2021

• Pupils will stay in learner groups or bubbles as much as possible. For younger pupils this is likely to be in classes but the groups may be larger at secondary, such as year groups, in order to deliver the curriculum effectively. Social distancing will be implemented as recommended by the guidance. Older pupils will be required to observe the distancing measures, but it is recognised that this is not always easy with younger pupils and these will be allowed to mix within their class. Staff will continue to minimise their contact as much as possible

• There will be exceptions to this for our most vulnerable learners at our special school and these will be subject to full risk assessments

• Frequent hand washing and sanitising will be robustly built into school routines

• Schools will be cleaned in line with the current Welsh Government guidance, with a particular focus on touchpoints, equipment, toilets and highly frequented areas

• Personal Protective Equipment will only be used in accordance with current Welsh Government guidance for example in delivering personal care where appropriate (please see links below)

• Dedicated Home to School Transport will be available for those eligible. Buses will be regularly cleaned and sanitiser available for those on board. Drivers and escorts will maintain social distancing by use of screens and/or use of PPE if required by a risk assessment. Records of those travelling will be routinely kept for TTP purposes. Pupils must adhere to the rules of travel including wearing face coverings on secondary school transport. There is a zero tolerance policy for those who do not abide by the rules and/or exhibit poor behaviour during a journey. If a Secondary pupil removes their covering without out a medical or health exemption, they will be removed from the transport immediately and operators have the right to exclude pupils and refuse transport for 5 days pending a review by Transport, Education and the School

The use of face coverings in school settings

In many cases, home to school transport provision will be close to full capacity. It is recognised that the highest level of risk is associated with secondary aged and special school pupils. Therefore, provided that it does not interfere with any medical conditions, it will be requirement for these pupils to wear face coverings whilst travelling.

This will be in addition to the current range of control measures which we have in place, as detailed within the local Schools Reopening Guidance.

Whilst the risks are significantly lower for primary aged pupils, this group will be encouraged to wear face coverings, as a form of good practice.

Parents will need to supply the necessary face coverings for their child/children. However, it is accepted that there may be issues in terms of access and instances where face coverings are lost for example and we will provide single use masks on all transport for use on an exception basis.

Schools will provide further guidance including the need for a bag to keep reusable face coverings in, in order to manage infection control risks and single use coverings will need to be disposed of correctly.

Use of Face Coverings in School settings - we are now working with schools to encourage the wearing of coverings in secondary school communal areas where distancing cannot be maintained. We are looking to supply pupils with reusable coverings but at this point in time they will need to be supplied by a parent/carer.

This is subject to regular and ongoing review  in line with Welsh Government guidance and a dynamic risk assessment process.

https://gov.wales/technical-advisory-group-face-coverings-children-and-young-people-education-settings

Free School Meals

Direct Payments are available for eligible families throughout the October half-term break, and also during the firebreak period for pupils in years 9, 10 and 11 that won’t be attending school for the week commencing 2nd November 2020. If you have previously received direct payments due to schools being closed there is no need to re-apply for this. For those eligible for Free School Meals, but have not yet registered with us, we have opened for new applications until 12am on Sunday, 25th October 2020. To apply go to - https://iweb.itouchvision.com/portal/f?p=customer:category_link:::::CUID,LANG:A2B40E379272FB6820B9E9053140A1A8C0CCEBC8,EN&P_LANG=en

To find out more about the eligibility for Free School Meals go to - https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/resident/housing-benefit-dhp/welfare-reform/free-school-meals-clothing-grants/

The Welsh Government has issued comprehensive guidance for all those involved in the re-opening of schools & childcare settings, and this can be accessed here –

• https://gov.wales/operational-guidance-schools-and-settings-autumn-term-covid-19

You can find contact details for all schools in Blaenau Gwent here

• https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/fileadmin/documents/Resident/Schools_and_Learning/Admissions_2019/Schools_Contact_List.pdf

Latest Welsh Government Information:

To keep up to date with the latest information on Education and Coronavirus (COVID-19) please follow the link to the Welsh Government website below: 

https://gov.wales/education-coronavirus


      

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