New guidance published on how Welsh schools should operate when pupils return full-time from September.

The Welsh Government yesterday (13/07/20) published updated guidance to support schools. To read the guidance in full go to

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

Literacy, numeracy and digital learning along with health and wellbeing must be the priority for next term, Welsh Government guidance for schools re-opening full-time in September says.

The guidance, published on Monday afternoon, is separated into two documents: one on how schools can operate safely and the other on what children should be taught and how.

Although contact between individuals should be minimised, keeping pupils in contact groups of 30, as suggested in scientific advice to Welsh Government, may not be possible.

In secondary schools, “groups” may mean several hundred in whole years or half years of pupils, the guidance suggests. “In secondary schools, particularly in the older age groups at key stage four and five, the contact groups are likely to need to be the size of a year group to enable schools to deliver the full range of curriculum subjects and for learners to receive specialist teaching. If this can be achieved with small groups, they are recommended.”

Attendance

Will I be penalised if my child be penalised for not sending my children to school?

No, Parents will not be fined for not sending in their children although this will be reviewed after half term.

Term will start on September 1 but schools can prioritise years such as exam years before everyone is expected to return on September 14.

Schools and settings are told to keep a record of attendance. If you feel for any reason that your child can’t attend, you should tell the school and explain the reason for this. This will help the school, settings and local authorities plan for, and understand any barriers there may be for learners returning to school and identify any further support needed.

If you have any doubts about whether your child’s health condition means they should not be attending their school or setting, the guidance says families should take advice from their GP or hospital doctor.

Children with Additional Learning Needs

My child has special educational needs, will they be able to attend?

The guidance says that some learners with special educational needs (SEN) will need specific help and preparation for the changes to routine that this will involve, so teachers and Special Educational needs coordinators (SENCOS) should plan to meet these needs, for example using social stories.

The guidance says “Special school staff should consult parents and carers about specific support needs, and use their discretion flexibly in agreeing the way forward for specific learners. Parents should be fully involved in this process.

The legislation in relation to Special Educational Needs has not changed please see:

Coronavirus and Additional Learning Needs – update

“Schools and settings may need to consider what adjustments are needed to their behaviour policies to respond to this.”

“Specialists, therapists, clinicians and other support staff for learners with SEN should provide interventions as usual.”

Schools should consider how to manage other visitors to the site, such as contractors and ensure site guidance on social/physical distancing and hygiene is explained to visitors on or before arrival. Where visits can happen outside of school hours, they should. A record should be kept of all visitors.

Lunches at School

School kitchens are “expected” to be open.

School transport

The legal duties around school transport have not changed.  If your child has transport provided it should continue unless you agree to other arrangements being made.   Schools, LA’s and relevant transport providers should work together to put in place arrangements which meet WG guidance on social distancing. 

Pupils won’t have to wear face masks, but this guidance may change.

Breakfast clubs and after-school provision

These should re-open.

“Local authorities should work with schools to consider resuming any breakfast and after school provision, where possible whether this is provision offered by the school or run out of the school by a private provider.”

Hygiene, cleaning, social distancing, classrooms and corridors

The guidance recommends desks should face forward, but this may not always be possible and that Staff should maintain distance from learners and other staff as much as possible.

All staff should be trained in how to put on and remove PPE safely and in the correct order. PPE is not usually necessary but may be in cases of first aid, intimate care or if someone is believed to be infected.

Action to minimise Covid-19 risk

  • Anyone unwell or with Covid-19 symptoms must stay at home
  • Increased hand-washing and hand-washing facilities
  • Increased cleaning regime
  • Active engagement with Wales’ Test, Trace, Protect scheme
  • Formal consideration of how to reduce contacts and maximise distancing between those in school

What if there is a second wave of Covid-19 or a local outbreak?

All schools must have a plan to return to full-time remote learning.

What if there’s an infection at the school?

The guidance says a school does not have to shut if someone tests positive for Covid-19.

“A positive test on site [therefore] does not require closure of that site”, the guidance says. “The process of testing and contact tracing is part of the ‘new normal’ and where schools and settings follow these guidelines carefully, there is no cause for alarm.”

  • But schools must engage with the Test, Trace, Protect strategy, and;
  • No one with Covid-19 symptoms can attend
  • No one living with someone who has symptoms of Covid-19 or has tested positive to Covid-19 in the past 14 days can attend
  • Those showing symptoms should be kept separate until they can be collected and taken home
  • Confirmed cases of Covid-19 in a school are to be flagged by local contact tracing teams

What’s the risk?

The guidance insists children are less likely to transmit Covid-19.

“The latest published evidence in relation to the transmissibility in learners under the age of 12 seems to be particularly low. Children under the age of 18 make up 22 to 25 per cent of the population, but consistently make up less than 2% of the total Covid-19 caseload in every country.”

The Welsh Government yesterday (13/07/20) published updated guidance to support schools prior to the return of all pupils in September. To read the guidance in full go to :

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