PREPARATIONS are underway to re-open schools across Carmarthenshire for children to ‘check in and catch up’ before the summer holidays.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams announced that schools could re-open from June 29 and that the summer term would be extended by a week.
The council has already been working hard to put plans in place for increasing the operation of county schools to enable more children to attend when the time is right to do so.
It is up to parents whether they choose to send their children back to school this term and schools are in the process of contacting parents to try and establish the likely number of pupils returning in June. Parents are being urged to please respond as soon as possible to help both the council and their school to make the necessary arrangements.
Schools will be open to all year groups, but with smaller class sizes and staggered break times, and start and finish times. Children will be offered sessions of face to face time with their teachers during this period, as well as continuing distance learning activities. Parents who choose not to send their children back will continue to receive support with home learning.
Risk assessments are being carried out at all our schools across the county, with each school being individually assessed on its own situation. It is likely that ‘a one size fits all’ approach will not work, which means that some schools may not be able to offer the same level of provision, dependent on building space and staffing capacity.
The council is working closely with Coedcae Comprehensive School and Brynteg Primary School to pilot the new arrangements and the measures that are being put into place.
It will include social distancing measures such as separate entrances and exits and one-way systems, increased cleaning regimes with hand-sanitisers in every classroom and portable handwashing stations where needed.
Various signs will be in place to educate and encourage pupils to keep to social distancing and practice good hygiene; with additional more fun/friendly resources being developed for primary schools.
Decisions on school transport and school meals will be made later this week following guidance from the Welsh Government.
Further information on childcare provision for children of critical workers will also be announced as soon as possible.
Executive Board Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “Our main priority throughout this pandemic has always been the safety of our children, their families and our school staff and this will continue to be our main consideration as we prepare to re-open our schools.
It will mean that, at most, a third of pupils will be present at any one time. Classes will be much smaller, providing secure dedicated time with teachers and classmates, which, after being at home for such a long time, will be very welcome I am sure.
It will also help to prepare pupils for their return in September; this new classroom experience will be much different to what pupils and teachers have been used to, but we are trying to make it as easy as possible for everyone involved.
“I would again like to thank parents for all their support and co-operation during this uncertain time; as well as all our school staff that have been working under very difficult circumstances, at our childcare hubs, and supporting pupils with their distance learning.”
Parents who have children that are shielding or are living with someone who is in this group, should not come back to school this term and should continue learning at home.
Parents who choose not to send their children back to school will not be fined.
Schools in Carmarthenshire will finish on Friday, July 24, as Monday, July 27 will be an INSET day.