Claire Homard, Chief Officer for Education and Youth in Flintshire has provided the following update on the situation in the Council’s schools as the Spring Term begins.
School staff in Flintshire have returned to work Thursday 6 January for the two planning days granted by Welsh Government. The purpose of these planning days is for Headteachers to review the availability of their workforce and determine if they can operate safely to deliver face to face learning for all pupils or whether staffing absences would require some learners to start the new term on a blended learning approach.
The planning days also provide schools with the opportunity to revisit their risk assessments and to make any changes to the school environment to ensure robust Covid-19 protection measures are in place, based on the Welsh Government’s advice that they should be operating at the highest level on the Infection Control Framework. This may include rearranging furniture to ensure physical distancing, reinstating one way systems, devising seating plans, planning for staggered start and finish times and pupils organised in discrete contact groups. Each school will be making its own decisions based on its individual risk assessment and will communicate this directly to parents/carers and pupils. The other purpose of the planning days is to give teachers time to have lesson plans ready should a decision have to be made to stop face to face learning and return to a blended learning approach.
All Headteachers in Flintshire have provided the Council with an up to date position on their staffing availability today in readiness for pupils returning to school on Monday 10 January. Although some schools continue to experience significant staff absences, based on today’s situation report, all Flintshire schools will be open for all pupils for face to face learning on Monday. However, it needs to be recognised that in the current climate of very high positive cases, this situation can change at very short notice and a school could find itself unable to operate safely and would have to move some pupils to a blended learning approach. This will always be agreed with the Council’s Education Department and parents/carers advised as quickly as possible. The aim is to ensure that any changes to a blended learning approach are a last resort and kept to minimum time.
Mrs Homard met with all Headteachers on Thursday 6 January and extended her personal thanks, and that of the Council, to all school leaders and their staff for their efforts to reopen schools for learners on Monday, despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, and wished them and their school communities well for the start of the new Spring Term.