Schools prepare to open for catch-up sessions

Schools across Bridgend County Borough are preparing to welcome back pupils as part of the Welsh Government’s ‘Check In, Catch Up – Prepare For Summer And September’ sessions.

Set to begin on Monday 29 June, the sessions are designed to prepare pupils for a phased return to normal lessons in September, and will provide each child who takes part with two days in which to prepare for the next stage of their education when the new school year starts in September.

Bridgend County Borough Council is working alongside each school to support their preparations and ensure that the children can take part in the sessions safely. In line with the latest guidance from Public Health Wales and Welsh Government, increased cleaning and full social distancing procedures will be in place at all schools.

Within each school, a number of control measures will be in place. With smaller numbers of pupils in each class and full supervision in place, breaks and lunchtimes will be staggered to avoid pupils from having to congregate in large groups. Activities involving contact will be minimised, and so will the use and sharing of equipment.

Handwashing and strong hygiene practices will be promoted and encouraged throughout the day, and hand-sanitiser will be readily available. High-use areas such as toilets, sinks and doors will be cleaned more regularly, and teachers and staff will remain vigilant and implement prepared procedures if anyone displays potential symptoms.

Parents, guardians and carers are being urged to make sure their children understand the importance of washing their hands regularly, including before leaving home, on arrival at school, after using the toilet, following breaks and physical activities, before eating, before leaving school and again as soon as they return home.

In line with government advice, pupils and their families are being encouraged to use alternative methods to get to and from school for the sessions. Those who travel by car are being reminded to park responsibly when visiting local schools, and parents, carers and guardians should not group together if dropping off or waiting to collect a pupil. School transport will be available for those who have no other option of getting to and from school, and social distancing and cleaning regimes will be in place all school transport vehicles.

Cllr Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, said: “By offering each pupil two days, we can place less demand on available school space, and reduce the risk of not being able to provide home-to-school transport over a longer period.

“It also removes the risk of not being able to provide adequate emergency childcare due to excessive demand for places, ensures that schools can maintain safe staffing levels, and offers more opportunity for schools to provide high-quality online teaching and learning resources for those pupils who continue to do their school work from home.

“To make this work and help keep children, teachers and staff safe, children need to be told at home about the importance of following the rules around Covid-19, and to remain vigilant for any signs of symptoms in both themselves and their friends.

“On no account should any child be sent to one of the sessions if they are experiencing a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss of smell and taste. Should they or anyone else in the household display these symptoms, national guidance must be followed on staying at home and social distancing.

“Schools are contacting parents, carers and guardians directly with further details of how the sessions will work. With your help and ongoing participation, we can provide the sessions safely while continuing to safeguard the well-being of pupils, teacher and staff.”