Posted: Mon 10th Jan 2022

Schools: “Massive relief to be opening as usual to all learners today,” says Flintshire Headteacher

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Jan 10th, 2022

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Schools across Flintshire will be open for face to face learning today following the Christmas break.

School staff returned to work last week for two planning days which were granted by Welsh Government.

The planning days gave Headteachers the opportunity to review the availability of their workforce and determine if they could operate safely to deliver face to face learning or if staffing absences would require some learners to start the new term on a “blended learning” approach.

Claire Homard, Flintshire’s  Chief Officer for Education confirmed on Friday that despite “significant staff absences” all schools in Flintshire will be open face to face learning today.

But given Covid infection rates in Flintshire are the second-highest in Wales, the situation in schools could change “at very short notice.”

Bronwen Hughes, Headteacher at Ysgol Maes Garmon in Mold said it’s a “massive relief to be opening as usual to all learners following the two days that we missed with them at the end of term before Christmas.”

Speaking to BBC Wales Breakfast, Mrs Hughes said “It’s lovely to think that as much as possible under the conditions, it’s business as usual for everybody.”

“I think if there is one thing that the profession has learned since Covid arrived it is to be flexible, to appreciate that situations are fluid, and that we have to make quick judgments based on evidence.”

“We’ve had the two planning days which were very beneficial, they have helped us look at our schemes of work to decide if we do have to go go to any model of blended learning for any school year, we know we can react quickly.”

Mrs Hughes said: “As far as receiving the learners back into the building today, our risk assessment is updated, we’ve asked them to take LFT tests, to wear masks, use good hand hygiene and if they have any symptoms of course to go and get tested and to protect themselves, their peers, their families and staff as well.”

“Everybody is happy to back, I think for us as teachers the main thing is that we want to get back, we want to see the learners, we like classrooms full of children that are learning and are engaged in their learning as well.”

“I think as far as staff are concerned as long as they know that we have the risk assessments in place they’re happy.”

Mrs Hughes said: “Everybody in the school community understands their responsibility and their duty of care to each other so I think it’s all about working together, It’s all about being vigilant and I think it’s all about trying to celebrate the small wins.”

“Today in the grand scheme of things having everybody back in the building is a win.” She said.

Mrs Hughes added the school only has “a couple” off at the moment and they are due to return tomorrow and Wednesday.”

Newly appointed Children’s Commissioner for Wales Rocio Cifuentes said: “I really welcome the reopening today and I know that some schools reopened a few days ago and I hear it was a smooth transition.”

Speaking to the BBC she said: “We know just how important schools are for children’s wellbeing and for their happiness.”

“I’m so pleased to see schools reopen safely today, It’s been a huge effort on the part of everybody who works in schools to make sure that children and teachers can return safely.”

Ms Cifuentes said: “I think every child and every parent across Wales will really be happy that schools are opening today.”

“Fingers crossed, things will continue to go in the right direction so schools can remain open because.”

“I don’t need to repeat just how devastating the [previous] closure of schools was for so many children, not only could they not learn they could often they often experienced food poverty.”

She said: “Many [Children] were incredibly sad and lonely and the impact has been quite was quite devastating on a large number of children in Wales so I’m really pleased to see them reopen.”

In an update on Friday, Claire Homard said: “All Headteachers in Flintshire provided the Council with an up to date position on their staffing availability today in readiness for pupils returning to school on Monday.”

“Although some schools continue to experience significant staff absences, based on today’s situation report, all Flintshire schools will be open for all pupils for face to face learning on Monday.”

“However, it needs to be recognised that in the current climate of very high positive cases, this situation can change at very short notice and a school could find itself unable to operate safely and would have to move some pupils to a blended learning approach.”

“This will always be agreed with the Council’s Education Department and parents/carers advised as quickly as possible. The aim is to ensure that any changes to a blended learning approach are a last resort and kept to minimum time.” Claire Homard said.

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