Posted: Thu 9th Jul 2020

Council welcomes plans to allow schools to reopen in September and the ‘science’ behind that decision

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Flintshire County Council has welcomed plans to allow schools to reopen from the first week of September.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams announced today that all schools in Wales will reopen on September 1st, but schools can have “two weeks flexibility” if headteachers want to prioritise the return of some year groups.

During today’s Welsh government briefing Kirsty Williams said: “The Welsh Technical Advisory Group who provide scientific advice to the government during emergencies recommends that schools, and I quote, plan to open in September with 100% of pupils physically present on school sites.”

“Subject to a continuing steady decline in the presence of COVID-19 in our communities, schools will return to full capacity.”


Flintshire Council has said, “local plans and preparations are underway between the Local Authority and schools in the area to review risk assessment, processes and systems to ensure individual schools can welcome pupils back safely in line with guidance by Welsh Government.”

“Schools which can do so will reopen from the first week of term. Some specific groups of learners might need to be prioritised during this week, such as Year 7, 12, 13 and Special Units for Secondary, Special Units for Early Years and Year 6. Parents will receive more specific information from their school and the Local Authority as it becomes available.”

From 14 September, school attendance will be compulsory, “parents are asked to contact their school if a pupil is unable to attend to discuss further.” The council has said.

“Each school setting will have local challenges to address, including staffing levels. Work is underway with colleagues to confirm school transport arrangements. Flintshire will work closely with all schools to overcome such issues.”

Flintshire’s Leader and Cabinet Member for Education and Youth, Councillor Ian Roberts, said:

“Over the last few months, many learners will have felt anxious about loss of learning and not being able to see their friends. I welcome the Minister’s plan to allow schools to safely welcome pupils back in September in line with all necessary safety measures and Welsh Government guidance.

“We know hard working staff in schools, learners and their families may well be under additional emotional, financial and psychological pressure during this incredibly challenging period. We continue to work closely with schools and settings to consider how best to support the ongoing well-being needs of all learners at this tough time.

“Pupils’ learning has been severely disrupted by the crisis. The £29m pledge by Welsh Government to recruit extra staff to support the recovery phase, minimise the impacts on pupils, and continue the ongoing work to raise school standards is welcomed.”

The Welsh Technical Advisory Group has provided scientific and technical advice to Government during the pandemic.

The Welsh Government says it follows the ‘scientific evidence’ when it comes to lifting many restrictions and measures implemented to prevent the spread of the virus.  

The Technical Advisory Group has published its advice on why it is recommending schools can reopen fully in September. 

In its evidence, the advisory group notes: “Infection with SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) appears to take a milder course in children than in adults: most infected children present with mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, and very few develop severe or life-threatening disease.”

The document goes onto to say, “There remains some on-going uncertainty in transmissibility of the disease by children, but real-world observation of school opening in England and other countries has shown little transmission by children.”

It also states, “transmissibility in children under the age of 12 seems to be particularly low, and this leads us to feel able to recommend that these children can be Covid Secure using more flexible controls than the 2m distance, such as seating facing in the same direction.”

“Secondary age children are likely to need to reduce overall daily contacts by 40-60% to maintain Covid-19 security .

This could be achieved by 2m social distancing and, or maintaining class ‘Covid Secure groups’ with avoidance of mixing“ – though the advisory group says is waiting on “additional data”.

The Technical Advisory Group also notes: “There is potentially a greater risk of transmission between adults at school gates than by children and “on a broader point on adults generally (workforce, parents/ carers) – care will be needed around school access as well as within school.”

You can read the full document here: Technical Advisory Group Advice from Children and Education subgroup

You can view the briefing LIVE via the video on https://twitter.com/welshgovernment

 



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