Updated: Flintshire High Schools to close early for Christmas with more expected to follow
Updated: Hawarden High, Castell Alun High. Maes Garmon, Elfed and Argoed have announced they will close next week and move pupils to remote learning.
Earlier Report: Two Flintshire High Schools will close Friday with pupils switching to remote learning for the final week of the term.
Connah’s Quay High School and Ysgol Teffynnon have sent letters to parents today outlining plans for the final week of the Autumn term.
The move comes despite the Welsh government and local authorities agreeing a common approach across Wales to keep schools open to the end of term.
The first minister ruled out early school closures in Wales to allow for a period of “pre-isolation” ahead of the temporary changes to household bubbles over the Christmas period.
Last week the Welsh Government and the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) announced that a “common approach had been agreed” to keep schools open in the run-up to the end of December term.
This decision was made in a bid to “ensure a consistent as possible level of provision across Wales in ongoing challenging circumstances.”
At the time a spokesperson for the Welsh Government said that whilst there is an expectation for schools to operate as usual up, it is recognised that for “exceptional local public health and safety reasons moving to remote learning may be considered an alternative option.”
However the latest advice document from Wales’ Technical Advisory Cell warned that the upcoming Christmas period would likely see “increased opportunities for transmission of the disease.”
The headteacher of Ysgol Teffynnon said attendance figures have “decreased sharply this week” and the school has had “many calls informing us that families do not want to send their children into school as they are concerned about a potential impact on family Christmas events.”
Connah’s Quay headteacher Mrs Amanda Harrison warned that in the run up to Christmas, “self-isolate of just one year group following a positive Covid case, the repercussions would affect 240 families in our community.”
In a letter to parents she said the decision to close early and move to remote lessons, “was not an easy decision to make”
“But it is a decision that I believe is in the best interests and well-being of the school community.
“We are aware that many families are considering the impact on their children attending school until the end of term and this is understandable as they seek to reduce contact at this time.”
“Sadly, Covid-19 cases in Flintshire continue to rise dramatically, and we are seeing increasing numbers of learners and staff needing to self-isolate across the school.”“
If we were to have to self-isolate just one year group following a positive Covid case, the repercussions would affect 240 families in our community.”
Mr Harrison said: “I have to balance the ability to maintain the safety of all our school community and to deliver an effective curriculum, with reduced staffing and the unpredictability of the current situation.”
She said: “According to the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) statement released on 7th December, concerning the pre-Christmas period, ‘it is to be expected that numbers of school students in self-isolation as a ‘bubble’ contact will continue to grow as cases in the community rise’.
“It has been a difficult year for everyone and reducing the risk of self-isolation over the Christmas period, which would mean not being able to spend precious time with your loved ones is at the heart of this decision.”
“Connah’s Quay High School has robust home learning arrangements in place and teaching staff will continue to work to deliver teaching and learning remotely until the end of term, and provide support with your child’s learning.
We will continue to work closely with our learners to ensure engaging lessons and continuity of learning is at the heart of our provision.”
In his letter to parents, Mr John Weir said: “It has been an incredibly challenging term and year for all schools, and while Ysgol Treffynnon has not had to send any students home to self-isolate, many schools have had to contend with multiple isolations.”
“We do not put our lack of positive Covid-19 cases down purely to luck, though no doubt we have been fortunate.”
Mr Weir said: “Our success in this area has been down to a robust risk assessment, which addressed all possible virus potential transfer processes, but most importantly our plans have been successful because you and your families have been supportive of the new regulations and we are so proud of the way everyone has worked together to ensure the safety of everyone in our school and local community.
“We are now approaching Christmas and on Friday 11th December it will be two weeks until Christmas Day.”
“The news this morning is that the period of enforced isolation has been reduced to 10 days from this Thursday 10th December.”
“This would mean anyone told to isolate from Tuesday 15th December onwards will have to isolate through all or part of the Christmas period.
“This may have a devastating impact on some families after almost a year of living with restrictions that have had a significant impact on our normal way of living, and our ability to meet with vulnerable family members in particular.” Mr Weir added. Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com