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Childcare arrangements for key workers

Next week, five schools across Bridgend county borough will be turned into centres providing emergency childcare facilities for parents involved in the immediate response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The facilities will be made available to parents and carers who work for the:

  • National Health Service
  • Police
  • Fire and Rescue Service
  • Ambulance Service
  • HM Prison Service
  • Social Care and
  • Childcare

It comes after the Welsh Government announcement that all schools would close by today (Friday, March 20).

From Monday, March 23, five schools will open up to provide childcare to help minimise disruption by ensuring key workers can continue to carry out their critical work during the coronavirus outbreak.

They are: Maesteg School, Brynmenyn Primary School, Maes Yr Haul Primary School, Coety Primary School and Pencoed Primary School.

Council leader Huw David said: “The main advice to parents is if it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.

“Our schools are closing today but some will reopen from Monday to offer childcare for key workers.

“If your work is critical to the Covid-19 response, and you cannot keep your child safe at home, and have no alternative option but to request emergency childcare provision, then your children will be prioritised for the new community hub provision.

“If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then childcare provision will be available for them.

“As some other local authorities have done in Wales, we have not gone with the keyworker definition outlined by Welsh Government and the UK Government.

“This is because we need to ensure we have the capacity and the resources to provide support services to those most in need as quickly as possible. 

“We do not want to be so overwhelmed on Monday that we are unable to cope with the staff and resources available.

“Over 370 members of our staff have already self-isolated as the virus rapidly spreads so our staffing is limited and this will only increase fast.

“We just cannot guarantee our staffing or know how many children will turn up on Monday.

“Once we see the demand for the service we can review the situation – we will review it on Monday and obviously increase our provision as quickly as possible if the staff are available.

“We have drawn temporary new availability areas around the five schools – and, in time, we hope to provide free transport to pick-up and drop-off children who are unable to travel to the hubs themselves.”

A letter sent out to parents asks them not to rely upon childcare for those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying health conditions.

It also reminds them they should do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.

With regards to free school meal pupils, we have put plans in place for 23 schools to act as local collection points to provide children with a packed lunch.

Our main purpose is to support the vulnerable and ensure continuity of learning.

We have put in place emergency measures to ensure ongoing support for schools – we are indebted to our staff for their versatility and willingness to adapt as we deal with these challenging circumstances.

Bridgend County Borough Council Leader Huw David

You can find out more and fill in an application form for a place here: - please return it by 6pm on Saturday, March 21.

Over the coming weeks, primary, special and secondary schools will be using a range of technology such as Google Classroom, Hwb and school websites to deliver lessons with children also provided with a range of activities.

The local authority is also working on plans to support children with additional learning needs.

For the latest advice available to the public on the coronavirus, visit the Public Health WalesWelsh Government and Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board websites.

In addition, more specific advice for parents and carers can be found on the Public Health Wales website. 

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