Posted: Tue 28th Sep 2021

Updated: Tue 28th Sep

School leaders’ union asks health minister for Wales to take action over ‘failing’ TTP

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Following a surge in Covid-19 cases in schools and significant strain on the TTP system, school leaders’ union NAHT Cymru, has sent a letter to health minister Eluned Morgan asking her to step in.

The letter, which was copied to education minister Jeremy Miles, coincided with discussions with the Welsh Government, calling once again for school mitigation measures to be reviewed.

Flintshire’s education chief told there is “no cause for alarm” as Covid cases rise in schools across the county.

There has been around 570 positive cases reported across schools in Flintshire between 1 and 19 September, but the rise was expected.

Neighbouring Denbighshire – which has similar rates of Covid circulating in the community as Flintshire – has implemented extra precautions in its schools to reduce the spread of the virus.

Laura Doel, director of NAHT Cymru, said: “There has been a lack of urgent action by the Welsh government to set in motion a plan after the clear failure of the TTP system. We can’t allow this situation to continue to interrupt the continuity of education for our learners.”

In the letter, Laura Doel said: “NAHT Cymru is receiving reports of no contact at all with TTP, despite having several cases in schools; contradictory advice like telling some siblings/children of positive cases to self-isolate and not others; contact tracers telling parents to ask the school for advice on whether siblings should come into school.

“A number of LAs have now told schools not to wait for TTP before sending out ‘warn and inform’ letters because the system is at capacity. There are also contradictions on close contacts going for PCR tests because our members are being told that the system cannot keep up with demand.

“NAHT Cymru has already shared our concerns about the framework not being robust enough to support schools before there were the wide-spread issues with TTP.

“TTP is a vital mechanism in keeping schools open. NAHT Cymru requests that an urgent review of the situation be undertaken.

“If TTP is unable to support schools then I request that health and education officials come back to the table with the employers and trade unions and discuss reviewing the current framework which is predicated on a functioning TTP system.

“It is unacceptable that school leaders are having to take on this function.

“NAHT Cymru wants nothing more than for schools to stay open, but our members need your help.”

Flintshire’s Chief Officer for Education and Youth, Claire Homard, said:

“As in other parts of Wales, Flintshire schools have seen a significant number of Covid cases since the start of the new school year.”

“This was to be expected with the relaxation of restrictions under National Alert Level 0 and the programme of testing of secondary pupils and the education workforce before returning to school.”

“There have been approximately 570 cases across Flintshire’s 77 schools between 1 and 19 September.”

“The rates in schools mirror the rates in the community.”

“Schools continue to work closely with the Test, Trace and Protect Team and take appropriate action, when necessary, within the national guidance.”

“There is no cause for alarm, all measures are precautionary to prevent and limit the spread and, thankfully, there are no serious medical cases.”

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