Update for Monday 10th January 2022
Return to School Plan January 2022
Staggered Start and Finish Times
Statement from Jeremy Miles, Education Minister for the Welsh Assembly Government.
"Our collective priority continues to be to minimise the disruption to education, and ensure where possible learners continue to receive in person learning, as well as protecting staff, learners and communities.
"I know that the autumn term has been particularly challenging for school staff, learners and their families, and the level of disruption due to staff capacity has resulted in some schools having to make the difficult decision to move certain classes/year groups to remote learning for short periods.
"Similarly, for colleges, staff and learners, there has been continued disruption due to the pandemic, but the commitment to the blended learning model and the different age range of learners in further education has meant that colleges have been able to be flexible in their approach to offer remote learning when needed.
"In recognition of the challenges that schools and colleges have faced, and the current levels of uncertainty regarding the impact of Omicron, I have today written to all schools and colleges to provide as much clarity now as I can to enable them to plan and prepare for the return in January.
"The following steps are being put in place to help schools achieve our shared goal of maximising learning and minimising disruption.
- I am providing all schools with two planning days at the start of the spring term. This will allow time for schools to assess staffing capacity and put the necessary measures in place to support the return of all learners. Schools will be asked to make use of the planning days to ensure they have robust plans in place to move to remote learning if required – this could be for individual classes/year groups or possibly for the whole school. Schools will be asked also to use this opportunity to revisit contingency plans, ensuring exam years are prioritised for onsite provision should there be a need to restrict in person learning at any time and consider what arrangements might need to be in place for vulnerable learners and the children of critical workers during any periods of disruption.
- As a precautionary approach all schools have been advised to plan that mitigations from January onwards are based on those set out at the ‘Very High’ risk level in our Local Infection Control Decision Framework for schools. As part of this preparation, I am issuing a Coronavirus Act 2020 Notice to allow schools to operate staggered start and finish times from the start of the new term as an additional mitigation should schools determine this is appropriate as part of their risk assessment process.
"For schools and colleges:
- From the return in January, we will continue with our national approach to the wearing of face coverings.
- We will offer enhanced testing which includes strongly advising all staff and secondary aged learners, to test three times a week using Lateral Flow Tests. We will be increasing our communications to remind staff and learners of the importance of regular testing.
- Our arrangements for staff in special educational provision remain in place. However, the ‘test to safeguard’ approach for these staff will continue to be considered alongside social care staff and where appropriate any changes in approach for social care staff will be reflected for special school staff.
"This is a fast evolving situation and we continue to monitor the latest data and evidence.
I would like reiterate my thanks to all in the education community for all they have done during these most challenging of times."
Letter from Mr Waters regarding the above statement - 16.12.21
If you've been in close contact with someone who has the Omicron COVID-19 variant, you must self-isolate for 10 days regardless of your age or vaccination status.
With the increase in Covid and the new variant being an additional risk, schools have received new advice regarding keeping safe before Christmas.
As such, from Monday, all staff will be wearing masks in communal areas and we request that when dropping off and collecting your child/children that you do the same. If it is necessary for you to come into the school building for any reason a mask MUST be worn unless you are medically exempt.
As you know, all the concerts are being filmed to be uploaded online due to us not being able to have our families in. In line with this, the decision has been taken to cancel the Community Christmas Market planned for Wednesday 15th December.
Please take care to social distance where possible when dropping off and picking up your children, we are aware that lots of parents/carers are congregating around the classrooms/pick up points. Whilst this is unavoidable in some cases, please avoid stopping and chatting unnecessarily.
Please also keep an eye on your children whilst waiting for other pupils to come out of school, we are aware that some Foundation Phase and younger siblings have been left unattended; banging on the windows of some of the ground floor Junior classrooms and even putting themselves in unsafe situations, swinging off railings etc.
We have been very fortunate not to have an outbreak of Covid in our school so far this year and hope that we can continue with this, especially on the run up to Christmas.
Thank you for your continued support in keeping our school safe.
Mr K. Waters
Please note the government rules on isolation when you live with someone with symptoms or who has had a positive Covid test have changed. The new rules are below.
Due to Torfaen moving into 'moderate' for Covid we now need to move online class assemblies.
Also, if you need to come into the school buildings for any reason (including parent/carer consultations) please wear a mask or face covering unless you're medically exempt.
Also, from today, the Government regulations regarding under 5s and Covid testing is changing.
Please see the latest from them below:
Children under 5
· We will no longer recommend that children under 5 years of age take COVID-19 tests without symptoms.
· Where children under 5 have symptoms, we would not routinely recommend tests - unless directed to do so by a doctor or if parents believe a test is absolutely necessary and in the best interests of the child.
We are now able to return to semi-normality where there will still be distancing where appropriate but children no longer need to remain in their classroom bubbles. We are able to have both entrances to the school open at drop off and pick up time and families can walk through the school. We have returned to our usual times of the day (these can be found by clicking here).
Rules on Isolating
If your child has any Covid symptoms please get them tested using a PCR test.
The Lateral Flow Tests are designed to pick up those who are asymptomatic but are not as reliable as a full PCR test.
If your child has had close contact with someone who has tested positive they are now able to attend school but please follow advise from Track and Trace regarding when they should be PCR tested (usually the 2nd and 8th day after contact).
If your child has tested positive please inform the school immediately and we will inform any close contacts on the advise of Track and Trace. Your child will need to follow the isolation period from Track and Trace (usually 10 days from the first day or symptoms or from the day of the test if asymptomatic).
Please see below for information about school provision for Foundation Phase and the return to school for Juniors.
Kirsty Williams, Education Minister for Wales, has made a statement today giving more details about the phased return to schools from 22nd February (after half term).
She is intending that Foundation Phase pupils return first. The hubs will continue to operate for those in Key Stage 2. Part of her statement is below.
Extracts from Kirsty Williams’ statement:
“We have been clear that our children’s education is a priority throughout this pandemic.
"Sadly we are not yet in a position to be able to see a full return to school for every learner. However, thanks to people following our national guidance, there is a sufficient headroom for us to bring some of our learners in a phased, flexible, and progressive way back into the classroom.
"After half term, from February 22, our foundation phase learners will start to return to school during that week. Children of critical workers and vulnerable learners, as well as those taking exams or assessments and learners in special schools, will continue to be able to attend as they have done throughout the pandemic.
"We have prioritised our youngest learners because of the favourable evidence on transmission in younger children and also because we know they find it the most difficult to learn remotely.”
"As we all know you only get one childhood, which is exactly why we are all working so hard to support young people back into schools so they can learn with their friends.
"However I must be absolutely clear: we are told time and time again that our education premises are safe but it is the added movement around them that contributes to the R number.
"So I must make a plea to all learners, to parents, and carers: please continue to follow the guidelines. By following the guidance restricting contact with others we are able to ensure that our children and young people are able to do what we all want, which is to be back learning alongside their friends.”
Welsh Government have today announced the plan to have a phased return to schools from 22nd February (after half term), if the public health situation continues to improve.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said:
"We are making steady progress in bringing coronavirus under control once again.
We’ve seen a really welcome fall in cases of the virus all over Wales, but they are still too high and the NHS continues to be under intense pressure.
We need to keep the lockdown restrictions in place for a little while longer to help us bring rates of the virus down further. If we can do this, we will create the headroom we need to get children back to school after half term – starting with the youngest at primary schools.
We will work with teachers, colleges, local authorities to plan for the safe return of children to school over the next couple of weeks and keep parents updated."
Online learning will continue until at least 29th January.
Kirsty Williams, Education Minister for Wales said: “As a government, we have decided to bring decision making on schools and colleges into line with our three-week review timetable. That means we will next review the situation on January 29th and remote learning will continue until at least then.
“Unless we see a significant reduction in transmission before January 29th then remote learning would have to continue until our next review date which coincides with the February half term...
“We are taking this action today because this new variant [of Covid-19] is far more infectious and is leading to increased numbers of people being hospitalised.
''Schools and colleges have been safe and secure environments throughout the pandemic and that continues to be the case.
''However, the latest TAC (Technical Advisory Cell) report is clear on education’s contribution. We know that school and college settings can contribute to wider social mixing outside the education environment and, right now we all have to play our part in suppressing this virus.
''I know these times are hard but please remember that this pandemic will end.
''Our wonderful schools and colleges will soon be full with the sounds of happy children as they always were before this cruel virus took hold.
''I cannot wait for that moment and I am sure all of you feel the same.
''But until then, it is more important than ever that we continue to follow the rules and stay at home.''
We are in the process of arranging our hub provision for vulnerable children and children of key workers.
If you are a key worker and have no other childcare you are able to apply for the hub. You can do this by emailing us. We would need evidence in the form of a letter, or similar, from your employer to confirm that you are a key worker and shift pattern information. If you only work part time, please indicate this in your email.
This is to keep the hub open for children who really need it and keep household-to-household contact to a minimum.
For planning purposes Torfaen have requested that we obtain final numbers by Friday, so if you feel you are eligible and need the hub please email the evidence and other information by 12pm (midday) on Friday (8th January). We will be unable to allocate spaces after this date.
We are sending this to all parents/carers. If you have already been allocated a space within the hub and/or have already emailed your evidence you do not need to do this again.
Pontnewydd Primary and Nursery School
All schools and colleges will move to online learning until 18 January in Wales.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams said the decision had been taken jointly with the Welsh Local Government Association and Colegau Cymru.
Ms Williams said: "As a government we will use the next two weeks to continue to work with local authorities, schools and colleges to best plan for the rest of term.
"This is the best way to ensure that parents, staff and learners can be confident in the return to face to face learning, based on the latest evidence and information."
Please see our privacy notice with regards Coronavirus below.
Please find below a document from Torfaen showing Frequently Asked Questions regarding schools and Coronavirus.
The school is now reopened to all pupils.
Latest plans regarding the reopening, staggered start/finish times and entrances etc can be found by clicking here.
Below is our risk assessment for Coronavirus and procedure should be have a case or suspected case in school.