Covid-19 - School FAQs

Page updated on: 24/09/2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Our schools are taking immediate action as soon as it's known a pupil or member of staff has tested positive for Covid-19.

The process of testing and contact tracing is part of the ‘new normal’ and where schools follow these guidelines carefully, there is no cause for alarm.

Pupils over 11 years old will be required to wear face coverings on school transport and in school indoor communal areas where social distancing cannot be maintained, unless they have a medical exemption.

Please continue to visit our Newsroom for the latest information. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Our key priority has always been the safety of children, their families and school staff and this will continue to be our main consideration as we begin to enter the recovery period.

Please be assured that we have been working hard to put plans in place for our schools. Thank you for your continued support and co-operation.

Please visit this page for all information, it is being continually updated. The following FAQs should answer any queries that you may have about schools re-opening. Get in touch via the "Ask a question" tab if there is anything you need additional information about.

Secondary schools

Pupils return to school on Thursday, September 3.

Half-term takes place from Monday, October 26 to Friday, October 30, and schools break up for Christmas on Friday, December 18.

Pupils return to school to start the new Spring term on Tuesday, January 5.

 

The Education Minister said all pupils would return to school in the autumn term and schools that could accommodate all pupils from the start of the term should do so.

However, there will be a period of flexibility and schools may want to focus on priority year groups such as those new to secondary schools, those sitting exams next summer or those in reception classes.

This will also allow time, up to a fortnight, for any planning and reorganisation. It is expected that planning and preparation days will take place at the start of term to enable schools to work with staff on reviewing their risk assessments, processes and associated systems.

From the second week of term it is expected that schools and settings will need to maximise the number of learners in attendance leading to a full return on September 14 when school attendance will be compulsory for all pupils.

Your school will contact you directly to let you know what days / times your child will be attending during those first two weeks.

Schools have been planning for Year 6 pupils to have some dedicated time in their new secondary school in September. Your school will be in touch to let you know the arrangements for your child.

We would expect parents to discuss any concerns they have about their child returning with their school. This will help the school and the council to plan and understand any barriers to pupils returning to school and identify any further support needed.

However, if your child does not return to school, it is the Welsh Government’s view that it would not be appropriate for the council or school to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) or commence proceedings for non-attendance. The Welsh Government will monitor the situation over the first half of term before reviewing its position.

Decisions regarding school uniform is a matter for individual schools' governing bodies and you should contact your school if you have concerns. However, we would encourage all schools to return to their usual uniform policies in the autumn term. Uniform can play a valuable role in contributing to the ethos of a school and setting an appropriate tone.

Did you know grants of up to £125 (or £200 for Year 7 pupils) are available to buy school uniform and other kit for your child?

Families eligible for free school meals can apply if they are:

entering reception class or year 3 in primary school
entering year 7 or year 10 in secondary school
aged 4, 7, 11 or 14 in special schools, special needs resource bases or pupil referral units

School uniform and equipment grant

Start and finish times may be staggered so that schools can safely manage the drop off and collection of children. Schools will clearly communicate these arrangements with parents before children return.

Drop off and collection arrangements will be a different process to that of a few months ago. Social distancing measures will be in place with separate entrances and exits, and one-way systems. Floor markings with arrows to help direct children and parents and footprints two metres apart will also be in place. Parents will not be permitted to enter the school building.

it is vital that parents keep their distance to avoid close contact and potential transmission of the virus.

Please remember:

Arrive promptly in your designated time slot.
Stand 2m from other families.
Leave promptly and move away from the school as soon as you have dropped off your child.
Please do not congregate outside the school gates as this is making it difficult for other families arriving at staggered times.

Risk assessments have been carried out in all of our schools and a comprehensive range of measures to limit the risk to staff and children have been put in place.

These include:

  • Separate entrances and exits
  • Clear signage around the school on the importance of handwashing, hygiene and maintaining social distancing
  • One-way systems in schools with clear floor markings to encourage social distancing
  • Perspex screens at reception areas
  • New classroom layouts with desks arranged two metres apart
  • Contact between individuals will be minimised as much as possible and pupils will stay in their groups
  • Staggered start and finish times where possible - to keep groups apart as they arrive and leave school and during lunch and break times
  • Daily health questionnaires to be completed
  • Schools will ensure that pupils and staff clean their hands regularly, including when they arrive at school, when they return from breaks, when they change rooms and before and after eating and after using the toilet. Increased number of hand-washing and hand sanitiser stations installed in all schools
  • Schools will ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
  • A limit on the number of pupils using the toilets
  • Increased cleaning - frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned regularly during the school day and a full clean will take place every evening
  • Each school will have its own designated isolation room should a child or staff member start to feel ill during the day.

Further operational guidance for schools can be found on the Welsh Government website.

Contact between individuals must be minimised wherever possible. However, it is recognised that this can be difficult for younger pupils and that is why in schools the emphasis will be on forming groups of learners and ensuring separation of those groups, and for older pupils it will be on social and physical distancing.

Grouping pupils will help to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, and in the event of a positive case, it will also help to identify those who may need to self-isolate and to keep that number as low as possible.

Staff responsible for younger pupils will remain with set groups and should adhere to social distancing measures as far as possible with younger pupils.

All staff should adhere social distancing measures in their interactions with older pupils, other staff members and visitors to the school.

 

All learners aged 11 and over will be required to wear face coverings on school and college transport.

All secondary school pupils (and staff) will be required to wear face coverings in communal areas, where schools risk assessments demonstrate social distancing is not possible. Communal areas includes, for example, corridors and school canteens. It does not include classrooms.

This use of face coverings does not apply to those pupils who are exempt for medical reasons.

We ask parents to provide face coverings for their children for the first day of school where possible. The council will provide a reusable face covering for those pupils who do not have suitable provision.

We are encouraging the use of reusable face coverings where possible, rather than single use face coverings, as not only is this better for the environment but it costs less too.

It is important to remember that face coverings are not to be used as a substitute for social distancing and handwashing.

The use of face coverings in schools will be continually reviewed.

Please see Welsh Government guidance on how to make a 3 layer face mask.

When a confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified as attending an educational or childcare setting (staff or pupil) contact will be made with the case (or parent) to assess whether they attended the school during their infectious period and whether further tracing of contacts in the school is needed.

If any staff member or child within the school is a contact of the case, they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and contacted by the local Test, Trace, Protect (TTP) team. If your child is required to self-isolate, everyone else in the household can continue as normal (however if your child becomes symptomatic, the whole household would then need to self-isolate). It is important parents answer their phones to the TTP Team as they will be providing information and advice and will be able to answer any questions you may have.

If a staff member or child from the school is not a contact of the case, they will not be required to self-isolate.

A positive test does not require closure of that school. The process of testing and contact tracing is part of the ‘new normal’ and where schools follow these guidelines carefully, there is no cause for alarm.

If there are multiple cases of COVID-19 in a school then experts from across the NHS and local government will work together to prevent ongoing transmission within the school. This will involve identifying those exposed, any child or staff member who is at increased risk and providing tailored infection control advice. Advice based on the assessment of each individual situation will be provided to support the school in preventing further spread.

Further information and questions and answers about Test, Trace, Protect can be found on the Welsh Government website.

Our aim is to make the return to school as normal as possible. However, your child may feel:

  • security from the close and extended contact at home with parents and carers and reluctant to leave this environment
  • anxious at extended contact with people beyond his/ her home
  • heightened anxiety caused by the continued emphasis on social distancing and what it means about his/ her safety outside the home

These are difficult but normal responses to process. Teaching and support staff will be ready to give individual reassurance and support to children experiencing these or related feelings. Together with the school environment changes, we will be doing everything to make this a safe and positive experience.

When staff can’t give physical comfort, staff can still do a lot to provide comfort from a distance. Staff can use comforting language and tone of voice; and can reinforce the message that school is a safe and happy place. Staff can validate a child’s feelings and provide reassurance and let them know that it is okay to have worries.

Children with additional learning needs may have been affected more significantly by the changed circumstances resulting from COVID-19. They may have found it difficult to adjust to a new and different situation without the daily structure of school to support them.

Schools will continue to work with professionals and other agencies such as Educational and Child Psychologists (ECPs), Behaviour and Community Support Professionals, ALN Advisory Teachers etc to support the needs of pupils with additional learning needs.

All children will have had different experiences of home learning during the period of lockdown. Learning from home is not the same as learning at school. Schools will be assessing what gaps a child may have in his/ her learning and will plan to address these from September.

We appreciate that for some pupils going back to normal will continue to be a challenge and for some lockdown will have had a significant impact on their learning and engagement in school education. The time pupils spent in school over June/July 2020 was focused on wellbeing and preparation for a return to learning in autumn 2020.

The Welsh Government will provide an additional £29 million to schools to boost support for
learners at crucial stages in their education from September.

The equivalent of 600 extra teachers and 300 teaching assistants will be recruited throughout the next school year, targeting extra support at Years 11, 12 and 13, as well as disadvantaged and vulnerable learners of all ages. This will support learners taking their A level and GCSEs in 2021 and those known to have been affected most.

Professional learning resources will be provided to support the new and existing teachers, in preparation for September. Staff will be recruited on a one-year fixed term contract and are expected to move into educational roles in the following school year. The support package, provided additional at a school level, could include extra coaching support, personalised learning programmes and time and resources for exam year pupils. A range of teaching approaches will be relevant, including blended learning.

Depending on the country you have travelled from you may be required to self-isolate for 14 days on your return to the UK. The situation is subject to change and we recommend that you check the latest guidance before planning any travel within or outside of the UK.

Yes , however, it is important to follow social distancing at all times. The majority of school crossing sites have social distancing markings in place to help remind you of the rules.

Please follow the instructions from the school crossing patrol and wait on the kerbside until instructed to cross. Ensure that you cross the road in a straight line maintaining a safe distance from the patrol.
Please hold the hands of smaller children.

 

If your children cannot safely walk, cycle or scoot to school and you must bring the car, please park away from the school and walk the last five / 10 minutes of the journey.

It is more important than ever to keep the yellow zig zags (Keep Clear markings) free of vehicles to help keep the area safer for parents and children to cross.

Motorists are also being asked to allow more distance between them and the crossing point when a school crossing patrol displays their stop sign, so that they can ensure a 2-metre distance from pedestrians crossing the road.

 

All learners aged 11 and over will be required to wear face coverings on school and college transport, unless they have a medical exemption. Coverings are required for the whole of their journey to and from school.

We ask parents to provide face coverings for their children for the first day of school where possible. The council will provide a reusable face covering for those pupils who do not have suitable provision.

Failure to wear a face covering will result in transport being withdrawn.

Please remember the most effective way to protect your child and others from infection is to follow social distancing rules, avoid touching surfaces and face, and wash your hands regularly. The wearing of face coverings must not be used as an alternative to any of these other precautions.

Pupils must not touch the front of their face covering during use or when removing them. They must wash their hands immediately on arrival at school or home, dispose of temporary face coverings in a covered bin or place reusable face coverings in a plastic bag for washing.

We are encouraging the use of reusable face coverings where possible, rather than single use face coverings, as not only is this better for the environment but it will cost less too.

Please see Welsh Government guidance on how to make a 3 layer face mask.

We are asking parents to provide face coverings for their children for the first day of school where possible and to ensure they have it on when they get on school transport, and that they have washed or sanitised their hands. The council will provide a reusable face covering for those pupils who do not have suitable provision.

Please see Welsh Government guidance on how to make a 3 layer face mask.

We ask parents to make sure their child has their face covering on when they board the vehicle, and that they have washed or sanitised their hands. If a pupil turns up without a face covering, they will be permitted to travel to school but will be asked for their full details by the driver who will inform the school. The school will provide the pupil with a face covering for the return journey. However, should the pupil forget their face covering a second time, they will be refused travel.

Refusal to comply with this requirement will result in your child’s place on school transport being suspended. Your support in reinforcing this message with your child would be greatly appreciated.

Primary pupils who are 11 years-old and over are required to wear face coverings on school transport unless they have a medical exemption. This follows guidance from Welsh Government and risk assessments from our transport providers. Younger children may wear face coverings, however it is not a requirement. We ask that where possible parents provide a face covering for their first day travelling to school.

If this is not possible then a reusable mask will be provided by the school on arrival.
Similarly, only secondary school pupils are required to wear face coverings in designated school communal areas.

Yes, but it is really important to stick to the 2m social distancing rule in the playground, as well as everywhere else.

We know that it is really tempting to greet people you’ve not seen in a long time with a hug or kiss, or to join a chat with a group of parents, but COVID-19 is still with us. Even if you are wearing a face covering, social distancing is essential.

Yes, PE is really important for children, but lessons will be adapted to reduce risk of spread of COVID-19.

You can make it much easier by checking when your child has PE lessons and making sure that they go to school in their PE kit on those days.

 

If a child does not have symptoms of COVID-19 but has other cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, they do not need to be tested and they and you do not need to self-isolate. Your child can go to school if fit to do so.

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Education & Schools