Posted: Thu 10th Dec 2020

Updated: Just one Flintshire High School will remain open next week for pupils

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Dec 10th, 2020

Updated: All secondary schools and colleges in Wales will now move to online learning from Monday as part of ‘national effort to reduce coronavirus transmission’ the Welsh Government has announced ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

More here: ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Earlier report: All but one Flintshire high school will close next week and move pupils to online learning. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Yesterday the headteachers of 10 high schools in the county sent letters to parents outlining the reasons why their schools will physically close next week. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

A decision which appears to have been taken by individual headteachers and not by Flintshire Council and goes against the current Welsh government stance to keep schools open until December 18. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

One high school has said it intends to remain open during the last week of the autumn term and close as planned at the end of next week. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School Flint says it will stay open, in an update on the social media, a spokesperson tweeted: ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“SRG intends to remain open until 18th December. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Please help us keep school safe in the next week and keep you all virus free for Christmas by limiting social contact outside school, wearing a mask, social distancing and washing hands.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​


Earlier this week, First Minister Mark Drakeford 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. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The Welsh Government and 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. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The 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.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

In the advisory document reference was also made to schools, stating that whilst “a period of pre-isolation for families with children as a result of school closures could reduce the level of social mixing ahead of 23-28 December if school attendance and wider social mixing associated with schools being open was not replaced by other social mixing activities.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

This would mean children would have to be taken out of school from this Friday to ensure the 10 day isolate period is complete in time for December 23 when three households are allowed to bubble up for five days. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Asked again about the Welsh government’s position on schools closing early, Health Minister Vaughan Gething told BBC Radio yesterday: ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“We’re having conversations all the time with local authorities we’ve agreed that the starting point is that face to face teaching continues until the end of next week.’” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Within that though, if the local public health situation is so significant for schools can’t operate, because they’ve got staff who aren’t there, they might need to make different choices.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“There isn’t a significant public health case to close our primary schools.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“That in itself would not have a direct impact on children’s well being, but also a direct impact on a range of our frontline services.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“So we’re having to review and these are really difficult choices.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Every now and again this is presented as a simple and obvious choice, close schools and all will be well and it just isn’t that simple at all. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The harm that was done when schools were closed the, harm that is done to vulnerable children, the harm that has done to mental health and well being in particularly of secondary school aged children so these are not straightforward choices but of course we review the evidence that comes to us pretty much, each and every day. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

There’s nothing simple and  certainly nothing glib in the way that we make our choices. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“When people are at school, you’ll see that lots of evidence that schools have either zero or one case, in about half the schools.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“So actually this isn’t the case that schools are an incubation pot for the virus to come out.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

‘If we close all schools, do we then think that teenagers, children, young people wouldn’t be mixing in any event? ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“If you’re a working person you can’t go to work, what do you do with your children?” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Do you take them with you if you need to go shopping?” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Do they stay with a friend or a relative while you have to go to work?” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“That’s why it just isn’t the case that there is a simple choice, and the  Wales’ Technical Advisory Cell advice doesn’t try to claim that there is a simple choice in one form of action or another.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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