Flintshire schools put pupils’ wellbeing and safety top of the list as they prepare to re-open
Flintshire schools have been busy preparing to reopen as they look to put the safety and wellbeing of pupils at the top of their list.
Social distancing signs, hand sanitising stations and one-way systems are among some of the measures being put in place ahead of Monday to ensure youngsters are protected from the coronavirus.
Many schools across the county have either been fully or partially closed since the outbreak started in March, but 22 hubs have kept running for vulnerable and key workers’ children.
The Welsh Government said the aim was for some pupils across the country to return before the summer break in mid-July to “check in, catch up, and prepare for the summer and September.”
Among those hard at work to ensure both children and parents feel comfortable are staff at the Alun School in Mold.
Jane Cooper, headteacher at the secondary school, said the focus would be on personal and social education.
She said: “It’s about reassuring them about anxiety that coronavirus may have cause them and giving them a chance to see their friends and to talk to their teachers.
“(They can) discuss what they’ve been doing in their distance learning and how they got on, what’s gone well, what hasn’t gone well and what can we do to help.
“Each group tutor has split the class into groups where we’ve tried to keep friendships together so that when they come in, they’re working with the form group who they are with a lot of the time and the people that they’re friendly with.
“We’re trying to provide that reassurance and address any anxieties so that they don’t spend the summer holidays worrying about what it’s going to be like to go back.”
Pupils at the Alun School will be kept in “bubble groups” on their return with each receiving individual e-mails detailing what days they are in, along with guidance.
Markings and arrows similar to those in shops have been put in place to maintain a one-way system on the corridors to encourage social distancing .
Reduced opening times will initially be observed between 9am and 12pm as plans to manage break times are not yet in place and only a quarter of each year group will be in school at any one time.
Meanwhile, children at a primary school around seven miles away in Flint will be encouraged to spend more time outdoors, where the risk of contracting COVID-19 has been shown to be reduced.
Ysgol Gwynedd headteacher Dewi Wyn Hughes said: “We’re quite fortunate that we’ve got quite large grounds, so we are encouraging our groups to be outside, especially when the weather’s like this.
“We’ll have designated areas externally for the children to enjoy.
“Staff have come in on different days this week from different year groups and what they’ve done is gone about setting out their stations.
“Those same teams have been responsible for making sure there’s clear signage for parents in place round the school and also looking at hygiene stations for hand washing.
“With us being one of the designated hub sites for the community, a lot of the principles and the models we were using within the hub set up has helped us.”
Just over half of pupils are expected to go back to Ysgol Gwynedd with parents given the choice of whether to allow their children to return.
Risk assessments have had to be carried out at every school in the county, closely supported by Flintshire Council.
Mrs Cooper said the pandemic situation was “unprecedented” and paid tribute to the efforts of everyone involved, from caretakers and cleaning staff to teachers and admin workers.
She said: “I’ve been teaching for 32 years and I’ve never seen anything like this – none of us have.
“I haven’t seen teachers upskilling themselves so quickly before.
“When new software comes in or a new teaching strategy comes in, people train on it and it’s gradually built in over months or weeks or even years.
“We’ve gone from nowhere to full time online learning and teachers have been brilliant.”
Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).
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