Pandemic changes confirmed for Welsh schools

Pandemic changes announced by Welsh Government will be in place at local schools ready for the start of the new term in January 2022.

Following the Christmas break, all schools in Bridgend County Borough will open two days later than originally planned in order to provide teachers and staff with time to introduce new measures designed to support the return of pupils and to help keep them safe and well.

With the planning days set to be held on Tuesday 4 January and Wednesday 5 January, the first day of the new term for pupils will be Thursday 6 January.

Breakfast clubs will recommence on Monday 10 January as long as they have sufficient staffing levels, but parents and carers are being advised that they will also be dependent upon whether staff are ill or have to self-isolate. Children eligible for free school meals will receive digital payment vouchers to cover the week commencing Monday 3 January.

In the week before they return to school, secondary school staff and pupils will be asked to carry out lateral flow tests for Covid-19 three times a week (on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) and to continue to do so once the new term begins. No pupil should attend school if they or anyone in their household tests positive for Covid-19 or starts to display symptoms.

Unless they are exempt for specific reasons, secondary school staff and pupils will also need to wear face coverings in all communal areas and classrooms where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

No changes are currently planned for the January examination timetable, and schools will make every effort to provide safe learning environments and support the health and wellbeing of pupils.

Cllr Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Education, said: “We appreciate that this is a difficult time for all pupils and students, especially those who are preparing for examinations, and are doing all that we can to minimise disruption and keep our learners safe.

“Providing a two-day planning period before the new term begins in January will enable headteachers to adequately assess staffing capacity and safety measures, and to put appropriate support in place before pupils are welcomed back.

“We will be reviewing the situation regularly to take account of any further guidance that may be forthcoming, so please look out for more news as the situation develops.”