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New pandemic guidance on schools and vulnerable residents

New Welsh Government guidance has been issued for residents of Bridgend County Borough who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, and on how children could begin returning to school after the February half-term.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed that while alert level four lockdown restrictions will remain in place in Wales for the next three weeks, plans are in place that will enable primary-age pupils to return to school as long as coronavirus rates continue to fall.

Any return to primary school will be undertaken in a planned, phased and flexible way from 22 February. Students who are studying vocational qualifications will also be prioritised as part of a phased return to colleges.

Announcing the new guidance, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “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.”

Meanwhile, existing advice for people classed as clinically extremely vulnerable to not attend work or school outside the home has been extended to 31 March following a review by the chief medical officer.

The new advice follows concerns around the continuing high incidence of coronavirus throughout the region, and the impact of emerging new viral strains.

New letters will be issued to people who have been included on the Welsh Government’s shielding list, and you can read a full statement from Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services, at the Welsh Government website.

Council Leader Huw David said: “It has been encouraging to see that across Wales, rates of coronavirus have fallen below 200 cases per 100,000 people for the first time since early November, and that every day, thousands of people are receiving their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“Never the less, we must remain vigilant, and continue to follow the alert level four rules - stay at home as much as possible, work from home wherever we can, keep a two-metre distance from others, wear a face covering in all indoor public places, avoid meeting anyone not in our immediate household or support bubble, and continue to use sanitiser and wash our hands regularly.”

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