Re-opening schools

Page updated on: 26/06/2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Schools will re-open from June 29 until July 17 for pupils to check in, catch up and prepare for the summer and September. Further information for parents can be found on our Newsroom.

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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 and prepare to re-open our schools.

There will be a phased approach at schools with year groups split into cohorts with staggered starts, lessons and breaks. It is expected that this will mean, at most, a third of pupils present at any one time. There will be much smaller classes, providing secure dedicated time with teachers and classmates.

Please be assured that we have been working hard to put plans in place for re-opening 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.

Schools will re-open on June 29 and will finish for the summer holidays on July 17. 

 

Welsh Government wants to give all pupils the chance to check in, catch up and prepare before the summer holidays and September. In each school there will be a phased approach, and year groups will be split into cohorts.

It will mean, at most, a third of pupils present at any one time, though schools may need time to reach this level of operation.

Your school will be directly in touch with parents to let you know the days and times our children will be attending. Children of key workers in year 7 and vulnerable children will have priority and will be able to attend five days a week.

Welsh Government wants to give all pupils the chance to check in, catch up and prepare before the summer holidays and September.

Here in Carmarthenshire, we have advised that in primary schools, older pupils only (KS 2) will be given the opportunity to attend during the first two weeks, with younger pupils (Foundation Phase) to follow from July 13.

This will help the schools to makes sure the new arrangements are working effectively before increasing the numbers. Year groups will be split into cohorts and, at most, a third of pupils will be present at any one time.

Your school will be directly in touch with parents to let you know the days and times our children will be attending. Children of key workers and vulnerable children (including Foundation Phase pupils) will have priority and will be able to attend five days a week.

We do not expect children who were due to start school after Easter to start before September. You school will be directly in touch with you.

Your school will use this time to help pupils prepare for the transition to secondary school. We are planning for year 6 pupils to have some dedicated time in their new secondary schools in September.

There is no need for year 11 pupils to return to school. GCSE results are being published on August 20 and your school will be in touch regarding this.

Schools will be in contact with Year 11 learners to ensure that their post 16 pathway is clear and arranged, that is, back to school, further education or work / training.

Year 13 pupils do not need to return, A-level results are being published on August 13 and your school will be in touch regarding this. Further information and support can be found on the Hwb website.

No, if you have children that are shielding, or are living with someone who is in this group, then they should not come back to school this term and should continue learning at home. Your school will continue to support you with this.

This is your decision to make, please discuss it with your school. If you are in doubt on whether your child’s health condition means they should be shielding, please seek advice from your GP.

Under no circumstances should you send your child to school if they:

  • feel unwell, have any of the three identified COVID-19 symptoms (a new continuous cough, a high temperature or loss of taste or smell) or they have tested positive to COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
  • live in a household with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive to COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

For information on how to apply for a test for yourself or someone in your household with symptoms including children under 5s please visit the Public Health Wales website.

Parents who choose not to send their children back to school at this time will not be fined. We will respect your decision on what you feel is best for your family and understand that some children may not be ready to return. Your school will continue to support you and help your children with learning from home.

Our current childcare hubs will remain open for the children of key workers, as well as vulnerable children until Friday, June 26. However, the hubs will be closing at 3.30pm on this day so that the schools can be cleaned ready for re-opening on the Monday.

From June 29, childcare for key workers will be provided by individual schools (this applies to Year 7 pupils only in secondary schools). If your child accesses the childcare provision, they will join their peers in class in the relevant sessions so that they catch up, prepare and learn together.

The schools will have a limited number of places for childcare and for the 'check in' sessions due to social distancing requirements. The demand for places is likely to be very high, and the schools will be implementing a strict prioritisation process in order to award places. The decisions will be made locally by each school, who will inform successful applicants of their place.

We are urging parents to please consider very carefully whether it absolutely essential that you have childcare from your school. For example, is your work critical to the covid-19 response and do both parents work away from the home so there is no-one available to look after your child?

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will receive childcare. We are sorry if you do not receive a place, but please try again the following week, your school is trying hard to meet the needs and expectations of all its learners and families.

The prioritisation is as follows:

Priority 1: Vulnerable children.

Priority 2: Current users or new applications from:

  • a) Health and other ‘blue light’ services
  • b) School and childcare staff
  • c) Carmarthenshire County Council staff.

Priority 3: Current users – all other eligible categories.

Priority 4: New applications.

Your school will inform you of the booking arrangements and also of the hours that they are able to provide childcare. There may or may not be provision before and after normal school hours depending on the circumstances in your school.

New applicants will need to contact their school for the booking arrangements.

We are waiting for confirmation from Welsh Government on whether childcare needs to be provided for key workers during the summer holidays. If it is needed, we are looking at several options to provide childcare over the summer break.

It is hoped that the usual summer holiday schemes will be available to families. We will publish further information on this as soon as we have an update.

Individual schools will need to consider the health and safety of pupils and their local circumstances to determine whether they can provide this for key workers only. Your school will be able to clarify local arrangements. Where breakfast clubs are provided, this will be to help with wrap around childcare for key workers, and it will be without catering.

Children can wear school uniform but it is more important that children wear clothing that is comfortable and easily washable. Please check with your school.

Your child will need to bring a packed lunch and a water bottle. Please check with your school if your child needs to bring their own pencil case / pens / pencils, as some schools will provide children with their own resources for their individual use. Pupils will not be able to share resources with other children or staff.

Start and finish times will 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.

Whenever possible, however this cannot be guaranteed as each class needs to be split into smaller numbers. Some staff may also not be available to work during this time, for example, if they are shielding. The aim is to have at least one adult who will be familiar to the children in each class; this may be the teacher or a teaching assistant as far as possible. Your school will be able to advise on this.

Each school will have to calculate how many children can be accommodated in each class and this is dependent upon the size of the classrooms and the layout of the school.

School meals will not be provided this term and we are asking pupils to bring in a packed lunch and water bottle. This will help with staggered lunch times and reduce the contact required for serving food.

Families in receipt of free school meals will continue to receive fortnightly payments or be provided with a weekly food parcel that will provide suitable items to prepare a packed lunch.

Families eligible for free school meals who have not yet provided their bank details in order to receive a payment, should visit our web page to set this up.

Families who have had a change in circumstances and are now in receipt of certain benefits could now be eligible for free school meals.

Yes, families eligible for free school meals will continue to receive payments or food packs. Welsh Government has confirmed that this provision will also continue during the summer holidays.

Pupils are being encouraged to safely walk or cycle to school where possible, and if transport is needed, for parents to make every effort to provide it.

School transport will only be available to learners who have already been through the application process and deemed eligible.

School transport will only be provided to eligible pupils if absolutely necessary. Our dedicated school buses will only be able to carry a small number of pupils due to social distancing requirement, so we would really appreciate parents’ support in making their own transport arrangements if they can during this interim period.

Your school will have asked you whether you require school transport for your child. We have had to work quickly with the bus / taxi companies to plan routes and put precautionary measures in place. Unfortunately, we will not be able to guarantee transport for all pupils that request it. There will be a need to prioritise transport for particular pupils, for example, vulnerable learners.

Risk assessments are being carried out at all of our schools ahead of re-opening so that a comprehensive programme of measures to limit the risk to staff and children can be 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
  • Smaller class sizes
  • New classroom layouts – desks will be arranged two metres apart
  • Limit mixing - children will stay in their groups and be assigned specific staff members
  • Staggered timetables - limiting the number of children on lunch and breaks, changes to drop off and pick up times
  • Parents / pupils will have to complete a health questionnaire before they are permitted to enter the school building
  • Cleaning hands more often than usual – additional hand washing stations will be available in both primary and secondary schools and there will be hand sanitisers in every classroom. Children will be encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with running water and soap and dry them properly or use alcohol hand sanitiser ensuring that all parts of the hands are covered.
  • Ensuring good respiratory hygiene - promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
  • Limit numbers using 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.

Signage and floor markings will be in place throughout the schools and children will also be reminded by staff if needed. We are developing some fun resources for use in primary schools, including life-size posters encouraging young children to remain ‘one cow apart’ and ‘social distance hero’ stickers and high-vis jackets. We will also have a song and book to help deliver key messages around social distancing and handwashing in a more light-hearted way.

Poor behaviour from older pupils who wilfully ignore the social distancing rules will not be tolerated, and parents may be asked to collect them from school to carry on with their learning at home. We would appreciate parents support in helping to emphasise the importance of adhering to these new rules to their children before they return to school.

We are increasing the cleaning arrangements at all of our schools. Cleaners will be on site, all day cleaning high touch surface areas. A full clean will then be carried out every evening.

No, the current advice is that these are not required in schools.

Welsh Government has advised that it is not necessary to check pupils’ temperatures. It is not seen as a reliable indicator of being symptomatic, as many children will not have symptoms but could still be positive. High temperatures are also a common symptom of a large number of childhood conditions so there could be a large number of false positives. Our daily health assessments for pupils should pick up any children who should be isolating rather than being in school.

Physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene (catching a cough or sneeze in a tissue or covering the mouth and nose with an elbow or sleeve) are the most effective ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

There is therefore no need to use personal protective equipment (PPE) when undertaking routine educational activities at school. PPE will be available to school staff in the event of a child with suspected coronavirus or for personal, hands-on care such as such first aid.

Strict procedures are in place for this and the child will be kept in a separate room until they can be collected and taken home. The room and any surfaces they have come into contact with will be thoroughly cleaned.

Similarly, if a member of staff develops symptoms, they will leave the premises immediately and a thorough clean of their classroom and any surfaces they have come into contact with will be carried out.

All members of the public who are displaying symptoms of coronavirus are now able to book tests for coronavirus, please visit the Public Health Wales website for more information.

The Test, Trace, Protect strategy is critical in supporting the increased operations of our schools. It sets out the next phase for tackling coronavirus; testing people with symptoms in the community, tracing those who have come into close contact with people who have tested positive for coronavirus, and protecting family, friends and our community by self-isolating. More information on this can be found on the Welsh Government website.

Welsh Government has also confirmed that the rapid deployment of testing will be made available to support outbreaks by the NHS Wales Test Trace and Protect Programme in partnership with Local Health Boards who will facilitate PCR antigen testing for everybody in the school/setting ‘bubbles’ (small, consistent group of no more than 8) that are affected by the outbreak and everyone in the school/setting if it has been established that the setting has not followed Welsh Government guidelines for schools and/or Infection Prevention and Control measures.

The method for delivery and sampling of rapid antigen tests can be executed in a range of ways such as the deployment of Mobile Testing Units (MTUs), temporary testing satellites and drop off and collection routes. The most appropriate testing channel will be discussed and agreed between all stakeholders.

The Welsh Government is also undertaking a programme of antibody testing being rolled out to at least 10% of schools staff who have worked in hub schools during the pandemic.

Antibody testing will also be carried out at the end of term with an additional sample group consisting of the broader school community.

More information

Welsh Government has stated that education staff working in the hubs are a priority group in the new antibody testing programme.

Antibody testing will also be carried out at the end of term with an additional sample group consisting of the broader school community.

Further information

The aim of this term is to give pupils the opportunity to check in, catch up before the summer holidays and prepare for the new school term in September. It will also help to prepare them for what the ‘new normal’ will be like before the autumn term begins.

There will be a clear focus on your child’s wellbeing during this term. After being away from the school environment for so long, it is an opportunity for them to be able to see both their friends and teachers within familiar surroundings.

There will be greater emphasis on outdoor learning which has physical, mental and educational benefits for learners (as well as reducing the risk of infection).

Pupils will benefit from some face to face sessions with their teachers, as well as continuing distance learning activities.

Later in the term, schools will also be looking at age and stage appropriate key skill development such as literacy and numeracy, whilst also exploring the four new curriculum purposes.

This term will also help prepare Year 6 pupils for the transition to secondary school, and for pupils in Year 10 and 12, it will further support their GCSE and A-level work.

You can find more information on the type of learning that will be taking place over the summer term on the Welsh Government website.

Yes. Online remote learning will continue via the Hwb platform and your child’s school will continue to communicate with you until the end of the school term. The aim is for every pupil, whether they return to school or not, to stay learning.

Our aim is to make the return to school as normal as possible. Moreover, we want the positive experience of connecting and communicating with peers and teachers to be the focus of our return.

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 using this ‘catch-up’ to plan to address these from September.

With pupils only attending school for part of the school week, blended learning will be an important feature of how schools will operate over the coming weeks and months.

Blended learning is an approach to learning that combines in-class (school-based) and online (home-based) learning experiences. Each online and offline session will complement the other.

There will be an opportunity for using the time spent in school to find out what support will be needed to make sure that blended learning works well.

This will be a personal decision for you and your family to make; however:

  • This is an opportunity for children to have dedicated time with teachers and classmates.
  • This time will help to get children and teachers ready for their school experience in September.
  • This will be a chance for Year 6 pupils to say goodbye to their friends and staff in primary school and to prepare for the transition to secondary schools.

Families will not be fined if they do not send their children to school this term.

Most of our school crossing patrols will return on June 29, 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.

Where there are reports of the 2-metre social distancing being breached, it may be necessary to remove the provision from the school.

Unfortunately, we have been unable to ensure a social distance of 2 metres for a small number of our patrols to safely return. Some schools may also introduce different opening and closing times, particularly around lunch times, and staggered starts and finishes, that we may not be able to fully cover with crossing patrols. Those affected schools have been asked to inform parents / carers.

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.

 

Unfortunately, we are unable to continue to provide spare seats during this period due to the severely limited capacity available.

Your application has been refused because your details do not match those of any pupils entitled to free transport already on our database. This could be because:

  • Your child does not currently receive transport from us (if they usually travel on a vehicle provided by a different council you will need to contact them).
  • Your details differ from our database, for example, if you have changed your address for which we have not received an application for transport.
  • Your child currently travels on a ‘spare seat’ – the information with the application stated that travel on spare seats would be withdrawn for this period as we can no longer guarantee that capacity will be available.

Travel will only be permitted on the day(s) on which the school has informed us that pupils will be attending. You are advised to check this information with the school if in doubt.

Vehicles will run at the usual time and from the usual stop for morning journeys (unless we advise you otherwise), as always please be at the stop in advance of the scheduled time and please be patient if the vehicle is slightly later than usual.

Please use the same bus number in the afternoon. Please note if a pupil does not travel to school on the morning journey, the afternoon journey may not operate.

Check school bus timetables.

Travel passes will not be needed, the driver will have a list of pupils entitled to travel on the journey. All other passengers will not be allowed to travel.

We are asking parents to please remind their children to wash their hands before and after travelling.

We are also asking you to please remind your children that they will need to keep 2 metres apart when waiting for their bus to arrive.

Buses will be boarded one at a time keeping a safe distance between passengers, and the vacant seat at the rear of the bus must be used first. When disembarking, again pupils must do this one at a time keeping 2 metres apart, starting with the most forward seats first, working back in turn to the rear seats (so that pupils walking down the aisle do not pass any other seated pupils). These rules apply for both inbound and outbound journeys.

Remember pupils should NOT travel if they are feeling unwell, particularly if they have symptoms of COVID-19, or they live in a household with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive to COVID-19 in the past 14 days. If any pupils become ill while at school, their parents will be contacted to take them home.

According to evidence, the most effective way to protect yourself and others from infection is to follow social distancing rules, avoid touching surfaces and your face, and wash your hands regularly. Buses will be operating with limited capacity to ensure that social distancing is followed. Therefore, it is not compulsory, and it is a matter of personal choice as to whether your child wears a face mask or not.

Pupils who normally use local bus services and pay to travel to and from school should be aware that bus companies are operating limited services and have limited capacity on their buses, so pupils and parents need to plan ahead.

Some journeys usually used by school children may be running at different times, may not be calling at the schools they usually do, or not running at all.

Fare paying school buses C11, C12, 243 (in Carmarthen) and L23, L24, L27 (in Llanelli) will also not be running.

Please check times and plan your journey before you travel. Information on bus services throughout Wales is available from Traveline Cymru or Freephone 0800 464 0000.

 

We are processing these applications as quickly as possible and you should hear by Friday, June 26.

Parents will not be permitted to board the vehicle under any circumstances and must observe the social distancing guidelines when waiting for their child to board the bus or collect their child from it.

Please report any issues immediately to your driver or to a teacher at school.

Yes, however we would encourage you not to share lifts with any other pupils that are not from the same household.

Unfortunately, we do require a new application for travel during this current period and your previous bus pass does not permit you to travel.

 

Yes, feeder transport will continue if possible, each application will be assessed on an individual basis on the capacity we have available.

Yes, all vehicles will be cleaned after every journey.

Some operators may provide hand sanitiser. However, we would like to remind parents of the importance of making sure the children wash their hands before / after travelling.

We are sorry for the unavoidable delays to progressing and hearing school transport appeals this year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Appeals panels will resume in July and continue throughout the summer holidays.

The team would like to thank parents for the patience and understanding they have shown whilst the appeal process has been delayed.

We are waiting for guidance from Welsh Government for when schools return in September. The Education Minister has said that they are working on a range of scenarios and that they will continue to be guided by the scientific advice and will set out their plans accordingly.

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