Coronavirus (COVID-19) Latest Education Information
More pupils return to schools in Wales
Welsh Government has confirmed that from Monday, 12th April all learners can return to face-to-face teaching in Wales, including those that have been shielding.
We will again be working closely with our schools on a coordinated, safe approach to this full return.
As always, the top priority for the Council and all our schools is to consider safety and minimise the disruption to learning for our children and young people.
You can read the First Minister's most recent statement here.
The Welsh Government's most up to date operational guidance for schools can be viewed here.
The Council would like to reinforce the message that schools remain safe places and that it is important that outside of school, families continue to follow the latest measures in place for Wales, especially in relation to contact with other households.
All our schools are currently participating in the twice weekly testing available for teaching staff, and will be commencing testing for older learners.
Please remember, your child/children should not attend at school if they are:
• A confirmed case of COVID-19
• Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19
• Living with a confirmed case of COVID-19
• Identified as a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19
• Living with someone with symptoms of COVID-19 and who is awaiting a test result
This is extremely important as we try to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in our communities.
Lateral Flow Testing of Pupils
Over the next few weeks, secondary schools in Blaenau Gwent will be rolling out regular Lateral Flow Testing for pupils in Years 10 & 11.
All schools are already carrying out twice weekly testing on teaching staff.
All our schools are fully on board with the testing, which is in addition to many other safety measures currently being used in schools. Regular testing can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by picking up asymptomatic cases early on, which can potentially avoid the need for larger groups of contacts having to self-isolate and keeps education safe for our pupils and staff.
The Lateral Flow Test kits are being supplied to schools by the Government’s Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). Schools are dependent on the distribution process of this department, so start times for the testing may vary.
The testing process is voluntary, and parents/carers will be required to give their consent for under 16’s.
Please look out for more information from your school who will be touch to obtain consent, and with further detailed guidance and arrangements for testing.
Arrangements for Welsh qualifications 2021 & 2022 (Update 24/03/2021)
Adaptations for 2022 and final details for 2021 have been announced by Qualifications Wales.
Find out more here.
Operating Schools around Coronavirus
We continue to work closely with schools to provide safe learning environments for the children and young people in attendance, based on the latest Welsh Government operational guidance - https://gov.wales/operational-guidance-schools-and-settings-15-march-html
Schools participate fully in the Wales Test Trace Protect service 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 are currently self-isolating:
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 for those isolating, 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.
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 however worked with schools on risk assessments and the implementation of COVID safety measures. These include:
• All schools have Covid Secure Risk Assessments in place
• There remains full flexibility for staggered start and finish times to allow for social distancing – look out for details on this from your child’s school
• Full risk assessments for members of staff where necessary in line with the official guidance
• Schools participate in the Welsh Government’s official Test Trace Protect Strategy which tracks cases of COVID-19 in the community. Schools will keep 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://gov.wales/getting-tested-coronavirus-covid-19
• The main 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 emergency contact details
• 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 from a learner's return date. It is vitally important for children and young people to attend school to make learning progress. Please speak to your child’s school about any concerns you have about a return to school
• 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. Parents/Carers are required to wear a face covering during drop off and pick up times
• Catering arrangements will be decided by your child’s school. Meal-times will be staggered and where possible pupils will remain with their learner groups
• Breakfast club provision is currently not available. This will be kept under review
• 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 & wear face coverings where required
• There will be exceptions to this for the 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 latest 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 schools
• Dedicated Home to School Transport will be available for those eligible pupils attending school. 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. Face coverings are encouraged for Primary pupils accessing transport.
The use of face coverings in school settings
Face coverings will be used in school settings in line with the latest Welsh Government guidance.
You can find contact details for all schools in Blaenau Gwent here.
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:
- Welsh Government - Education Update 24.02.2021
- Welsh Government - Education Update 19.02.2021
- Welsh Government - Education Update 10.02.2021
- Welsh Government - Education Update 05.02.2021
- Welsh Government - Education Update 03.02.2021
- Welsh Government - Education Update 29.01.2021
- Welsh Government - Education Update 20.01.2021
- Welsh Government - Education Update 18.01.2021
- Welsh Government - Education Update 14.01.2021
- Welsh Government - Education Update 08.01.2021
- Welsh Government - Education Update 05.01.21
- Curriculum Bill Newsletter - 07.07.20
- Support Pack 1: Managing our Worries
- Support Pack 2: Supporting children and parents/carers with learning at home
- Support Pack 3: Promoting Emotional Health and Well being
- Support Pack 4: Home school communications
- Support Pack 5: Transition back to school
- WG Letter to Flying Start, Families First, Family Information and Childcare Services - (ENG) 08.04.20
- WG Letter to Flying Start, Families First, Family Information and Childcare Services - (CYM) 08.04.20