Following latest meetings with headteachers and governors, Bridgend County Borough Council has agreed that local schools can now close on Wednesday 16 December, and that pupils will receive online learning opportunities at home on 17 and 18 December instead.

The new date will apply to all schools, including nurseries, apart from Heronsbridge and Ysgol Bryn Castell which will both close as planned on 18 December.

Each school will also be able to decide if they need to close ahead of 16 December should it prove to be necessary in order to keep pupils, teachers and staff safe.

Cllr Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, said: “Schools across Bridgend County Borough were originally set to close on 18 December, but the plans have been reconsidered after the total number of positive coronavirus cases in the county borough doubled in less than a week.

“Based on the latest figures and following conversations with local headteachers and school governors, we have agreed that the final day of term will now be 16 December.

“With large numbers of pupils already self-isolating in almost 59 per cent of local schools, we want to strike the right balance between ensuring that children can benefit from being at school, keeping them safe and trying to avoid causing additional childcare issues for parents and carers.

“At the same time, we also have to meet national requirements from Welsh Government, so this new date is intended to provide pupils with a full week’s break before the Christmas festivities begin and to ensure that the safety of local children can remain our number one priority.

“With positive cases of coronavirus now in each of our cluster areas, all headteachers were in favour of ending the school term earlier than originally planned.

“Based on clearly-defined risk assessments, headteachers and governing bodies will also be able to decide whether an individual school needs to finish before 16 December in order to manage any specific circumstances which may arise.”

Arrangements remain in place for sixth form students to finish physically attending school on 11 December, and for all Year 11 and Year 13 students to receive online learning during the week commencing 14 December.

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