Schools prepare to welcome pupils back to the classroom

When schools across Bridgend County Borough Council open their doors in September for the start of the new autumn term, pupils, teachers and staff can expect to see a number of changes that will help them to stay safe and well.

The changes have been introduced following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Designed to be in line with guidance provided by Welsh Government, they cover a range of practical measures as well as procedures for moving around the school, accessing classrooms, using facilities and more.

While each school will apply these changes in different ways, they have all been developed using six principles as a guiding basis. To help prepare parents, carers, guardians and pupils, a set of frequently asked questions will soon be published on the council website covering information ranging from uniforms and school dinners to transport and health and safety.

Cllr Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, said: “As well as addressing a number of practical issues, the frequently asked questions will outline how the changes will reflect the way in which learning supports mental, emotional, physical and social well-being as well as recognising the importance of outdoor learning and play.

“Lessons will focus on what is important for learners, both now and in the longer-term, and will provide opportunities for developing and applying literacy, numeracy and digital competence across the curriculum.

“We want pupils to be able to have learning experiences which span a broad curriculum, offer opportunities for developing understanding, knowledge and skills, and which enable all learners to make meaningful progress.

“Throughout the ongoing pandemic, schools have developed a common understanding with parents, carers and pupils to help underpin and support learning experiences.”

In September, the reopening of school will be carried out in phases and will begin with the return of teachers and staff on 1 September.  From 1-3 September schools will make the necessary preparations for pupils to return to school and no pupils will attend on these days. On Friday 4 September, priority year groups will start to return to school.  Individual schools will directly advise parents/carers which pupils should attend on Friday 4 September and also between 7–9 September.  All schools will be open as normal to all pupils from 10 September.

Cllr Smith added: “We have been working closely with schools to adopt a common approach towards reopening, and people should be prepared to adapt to some new and different methods while the pandemic is still underway.

“As part of the preparation, and following yesterday’s statement from Welsh Government, we are working with headteachers to determine whether the use of face coverings, following a risk assessment, are appropriate in school-based settings.

“Throughout all of this, we are continuing to prioritise the ongoing health, safety and well-being of all our pupils, and will keep you fully informed about any new developments.”