Working together to reopen schools in Blaenau Gwent

Published: 23 June 2020

Working together to reopen schools in Blaenau Gwent

The Welsh Government recently confirmed that schools will re-open for all year groups on June 29th, 2020. Only a third of pupils will be in school at any one time to allow for social distancing rules and the sessions are a chance for children & young people to ‘check in and catch up’ before the summer, in order to prepare for September when many measures are expected to remain in place.

Councillor Joanne Collins, Executive Member for Education at Blaenau Gwent Council, says:

"We're working closely with all our schools in order to welcome back groups of learners from the 29th June for ‘check in, catch up’ sessions, in order to help prepare them for September. The main focus of the sessions will be the well-being of our children and young people and for teachers to assess where pupils are with remote learning.

The Council has made a decision that the current school term in Blaenau Gwent will formally end on Friday, 17th July as originally planned. This decision is an approach that is being reflected across the Gwent region, and indeed across Wales, and we believe provides certainty to school leaders, teaching staff and parents so that they are able to effectively plan ahead.”

Attendance during this term is voluntary and a parental decision. You will not face any penalties for not sending your child to school this term. Children and young people who fall into the shielding category will carry on with online learning.

The Council is working closely with our schools; trade unions and other relevant partners on how our schools can open and operate safely. The well-being and safety of all learners and school staff is always our priority.

We know that 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 about the latest plans.

We have however worked with schools to agree some key principles for the re-opening. These include:

• All schools will open Monday to Friday for morning sessions only

• The current school term will end on Friday, 17th July 2020 as originally planned

• There is flexibility for staggered start and finish times to allow for social distancing measures to be followed

• Full risk assessments are being carried out in relation to buildings, pupils and school staff

• Key worker children currently accessing the childcare hubs will continue to access that provision with some slight changes. More details on our Covid Education webpage

• No on-site catering or meals will be provided. Where children are attending longer hours as part of the key worker provision they will be required to bring a packed lunch

• Classrooms will be adapted to allow for the 2m social distancing rule to be applied. There is acknowledgement that this will not always be possible among younger age groups and Welsh Government have advised on this further in their guidance (see links below)

• Schools will be cleaned in line with the Welsh Government guidance

• Personal Protective Equipment will be used in accordance with current Welsh Government guidance (please see links below)

• Where possible parents/carers will be asked to make their own arrangements for transporting their children to school. There will be limited availability of transport due to the current required social distancing rules. We are working closely with individual schools to establish the need for transport, and this will be based around a number of factors including distance; pupils with a disability or learning difficulties; authority looked after children; pupil age and routes to school

• The focus of the sessions is the well-being of pupils and a chance to catch up with their class teachers and peers

• Uniform can be relaxed at this time – although this is a matter for individual schools

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 –

• Operational guidance:
https://gov.wales/operational-guidance-schools-and-settings-keep-education-safe-covid-19
• Learners guidance
https://gov.wales/guidance-learning-over-summer-term-keep-education-safe

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