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Schools reopening FAQs

Frequently asked questions (FAQ) for the 2021-2022 school year 

The expectation is that schools and settings should operate as normally as possible from the start of the autumn term 2021-2022 (ie from 3 September 2021).

Schools will ensure that the following measures are in place:

  • up-to-date risk assessments;
  • good hygiene;
  • adequate ventilation; and
  • preventing attendance by individuals with COVID-19 symptoms.

 

It is likely that there will be some impact from COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. However, the emphasis is now to ensure there is as little impact as possible.

The approaches taken by schools and settings will continue to evolve to provide learning, both in school and elsewhere if the need arises.

At alert level zero, schools and settings working with the local authority will take reasonable measures to protect pupils, staff and others from COVID-19 within their premises, including the carrying out of specific COVID-19 risk assessments for their buildings.

Pupils can still attend school unless:

  • they have any COVID-19 symptoms;
  • have been told to self-isolate by a Test, Trace and Protect (TTP) official; and/or they
  • are themselves identified as COVID-19 positive following a test.

This section will be updated as information becomes available

The overall risk level for Wales will continue to be determined nationally by Welsh Government.  If through local intelligence, TTP, Public Health Wales (PHW) and the local authority assess that the risk level for a school /setting differs from the national risk level due to a cluster for example, they will work with the school/setting to review their risk assessment and put additional proportionate tailored interventions in place.

Any decision to recommend tailored interventions such as face coverings or implementing contact groups would be taken in discussion with public health, TTP and the local authority.  These interventions may be varied on a case-by-case basis

 

The fundamental principle remains that the most effective way to prevent transmission of COVID-19 in schools and settings is to stop infection being brought into the setting. If anyone tests positive for COVID-19 or has any of the COVID-19 cardinal symptoms they should self-isolate and not attend the school/setting.

If there are multiple cases of COVID-19 in a school/setting then experts from across the NHS, including TTP, PHW and the local authority (Incident Management Team) will work together to prevent ongoing transmission within the school.  Regional TTP teams will appoint a clear lead for the investigation of a cluster who work with the head of the school/setting (or nominated deputy). Advice based on the assessment of each individual situation will be provided to support the school in preventing further spread through the use of additional tailored interventions.

TTP teams will continue to be responsible for contacting each positive case and collecting information about their close contacts both within and outside the school/setting.

Welsh Government no longer recommends the routine use of face coverings in the classroom for staff or learners.  Schools and settings will determine their use in areas where there is likely to be more social mixing, such as in communal areas, in discussion with the local authority. 

Where a decision is made to use face coverings by individual school risk assessments, the face covering should be a recyclable, high-quality, three-layered, multi-use face coverings which must be used correctly ie covering the mouth and nose, ensuring hand hygiene before putting on and following removal.

Schools will ensure adequate waste bins on premises for those pupils who choose to use single-use face coverings.

The wearing of face coverings is still required by pupils in Year 7 and above when travelling on school transport vehicles.

 

No.

Contact groups/bubbles are no longer required.

All learners will return to their school or setting in the autumn term unless they have a medical/health reason not to.

 

If a learner is unable to attend the physical setting of the school it is vital that the school continues to engage regularly with the learner remotely. Schools and settings should keep a record of attendance and families should notify their school if their child is unable to attend and explain the reason for this to enable the school to record attendance correctly.  This will help schools, settings and local authorities plan for, and understand any barriers to, learners returning to school and identify any further support needed. It will be critical that all learners engage with the school and any concerns about engagement, or the welfare of a learner, are followed up immediately.  The Education Welfare Service, alongside Early Help services, can assist in these situations.

 

It is important that all learners, their families and staff follow PHW advice in respect of the virus and under no circumstances should learners or staff attend schools/settings if they:

 

  • feel unwell, have any of the three identified COVID-19 symptoms (a new continuous cough, or a high temperature or loss of or change to their sense of taste or smell) or they have tested positive to COVID-19 in the past 7 days; or

 

  • live in a household or are part of an extended household with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

If parents/carers of learners are concerned about their children returning to school, we recommend parents should discuss this with their child’s school/setting.

 Schools and settings should be clear with parents/carers that learners of compulsory school age must be in school unless a statutory reason applies (eg the learner has been granted a leave of absence, is unable to attend because of sickness or is absent for a necessary religious observance).

Early Help and Social Services continue to be available to children and families in need of support or safeguarding.

Early Help services can provide support linked to parenting, wellbeing, counselling, financial advice and employment/training, should families require it.  

Early Help services work closely with schools and other services including parents/carers, who can refer children and families for support via:

earlyhelp@bridgend.gov.uk

If there are safeguarding concerns, contact must be made with Social Services via:

mashcentra@bridgend.gov.uk

The requirement for a pupil to wear a school uniform is a governing body’s decision.

However, Welsh Government now encourages all schools to return to their usual uniform policies as uniform can play a valuable role in contributing to the ethos of a school and setting an appropriate tone.

Yes. 

All schools will have comprehensive risk assessments in place.

All parents are advising not to send their child to school if they are displaying COVID-19 symptoms and similar arrangements are in place for staff.  Schools will have guidance on how to deal with anyone who becomes unwell while at school displaying COVID-19 symptoms including isolation, supervision and additional cleaning requirements.

 

Pupils can wear face coverings providing that they themselves are able to put them on and remove them properly, store them (if reusable) or dispose of them in a bin.

Providing that social distancing measures are followed when off-site and strict personal hygiene standards adhered to when returning to school, there is no reason to prohibit movement off-site.

It is the local authority’s intention that all school transport will operate normally from the start of the autumn term.

No.

There will be no change in eligibility as a result of the current situation.

The local authority will continue to take a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to pupil behaviour on school transport to ensure the safety of pupils and transport staff. 

 Any child demonstrating poor behaviour, putting others at risk or not following instructions from transport staff, for example, to remain seated, may be refused future travel.

All secondary age pupils (Year 7 and above) are required to wear a face covering on dedicated home-to-school transport. There is no requirement for primary school-age pupils to wear a face covering.

Parents/carers of Year 7 pupils will be required to provide their child with an appropriate face covering for their first journey as pupils will not be allowed to travel without one.

Individual schools maintain a stock of face coverings and will provide these by request.

Pupils with medical conditions or with additional learning needs are not recommended to wear a face covering but may do so if they wish.

All eligible learners will receive a letter from the local authority’s School Transport Team prior to the start of the new school year in September 2021.

There is no requirement to maintain contact groups/’bubbles’ on school transport providing a consistent group of learners travel on the same bus each day they attend. 

Wherever capacity allows, social distancing will be implemented between learners, or groups of learners, and between drivers/passenger assistants, or escorts, on dedicated local authority provided home-to-school transport services.

Some children may be provided with an alternative vehicle eg minibus or taxi at the discretion of the local authority or to meet individual needs.

Schools are responsible for implementing seating plans on all large school transport vehicles eg big buses.  Therefore, schools may allow siblings or pupils from the same household (they live together in the same property) to sit together.  This arrangement does not apply to nursery pupils, as these are no longer able to use large school buses.  Nursery children will be offered a place on a dedicated minibus or in a taxi.

Learners in primary schools who are eligible for home-to-school transport need to be accompanied to their nearest bus stop by a responsible adult unless they have a prior arrangement with the local authority for exemption. 

Secondary school learners do not need to be accompanied to the bus stop/pick-up point.

All learners in primary school must be received at their bus stop/pick-up point by a responsible adult at the end of the school day, unless they have a prior arrangement with the local authority for exemption.

There is no statutory requirement to provide escorts, although the local authority will assess the needs of learners and determine the appropriateness and availability of escorts in all cases.

Yes.

This requirement was suspended for the 2020-2021 school year but will be introduced again for the 2021-2022 school year commencing on 2 September 2021. There will however, be a two-week grace period to allow pupils time to receive their new passes ending 17 September. 

Secondary school pupils who do not present their pass on entry of a school transport vehicle after this time will be refused entry.  It is the responsibility of parents/carers to ensure their child has their bus pass with them at all times and to arrange onwards travel to school if their child is refused entry to a school transport vehicle by a driver.

Yes.

The local authority is able to consider applications for discretionary transport. 

The ‘paying place’ scheme is currently suspended until there is further clarity on the exemption of school transport vehicles under the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) from January 2022.

Please talk to your child about maintaining social distancing, hygiene and good behaviour when using school transport.  It is very important that children board and alight any school transport calmly and safely and remain seated at all times. 

Any instruction from the bus driver or an escort (where provided) should be followed. Any poor behaviour will not be tolerated and any child who puts another occupant at risk may lose their entitlement to free transport.

School Meals

Yes.

Breakfast clubs should operate as normal from the start of the autumn term.  However, schools may require a few weeks to reinstate the provision.  Please liaise with your school to confirm arrangements.

Providing that social distancing measures are followed when off-site and strict personal hygiene standards adhered to when returning to school, there is no reason to prohibit movement off-site.

Yes. 

However, individual schools may need to limit the menu choices for a short period of time.

This is a decision that will be made by individual schools and you are therefore advised to contact your child’s school directly.

Medical specialist diets will be available for your child, but parents would be expected to update the school on any changes to a previously provided specialist diet, to ensure that the Catering Service can be informed prior to your child attending.

Yes.

Individual schools will be liaising with the milk provider to resume their free school milk provision for the start of the autumn term.

Yes. 

However, parents/carers will need to ensure there is sufficient balance on their child’s account.  If parents have not received a recent email with their child’s account balance, they can contact the school administrator to ask for this information.

It is unlikely that cash revaluation machines in secondary schools will be accessible initially and parents/carers are therefore advised of the need to credit school meal accounts via the Pay it function on the Bridgend County Borough Council website.

 

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