Returning to School FAQ's


WHAT ARE THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE RETURN TO SCHOOL IN SEPTEMBER?

Flintshire County Council has welcomed plans by the Education Minister to allow schools to phase their reopening from the first week of September, with all schools to be fully operational from 14 September.
 
All Flintshire schools have developed individual plans for their reopening and these will have been shared directly with parents. Schools have made their own decision on which year groups will return and when during the first two weeks in September where the Welsh Government has given flexibility. All Flintshire pupils of statutory school age should be in school full time from Monday 14th September.

Separate arrangements have been made to give schools longer to settle in Nursery aged pupils who are coming to school for the first time and will have communicated their plans to those parents directly.

HOW WILL YOU KEEP SCHOOLS CLEAN TO REDUCE POTENTIAL INFECTION?

We take the safety and wellbeing of our pupils and staff seriously and all schools have sufficient cleaning materials, soap and hand sanitiser available.

All school buildings will be cleaned regularly. Hard surfaces will be cleaned with warm soapy water or the normal cleaning products used. Particular attention will be given to clean ‘high-touch’ areas and surfaces. These areas will be cleaned at least once a day and more frequently in high-use areas based on local assessment, including bathrooms, railings, tables, toys, equipment door handles, push pads, taps and hand sanitiser dispensers.

WILL YOU BE PROVIDING PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE) TO SCHOOLS?

All schools have been provided with a pack of PPE to use in particular circumstances in line with Welsh Government guidance e.g. dealing with a child who is unwell, a first aid incident or where the needs of the child require it to be worn. PPE will not be worn in the delivery of routine educational activities in mainstream schools.

Schools will maintain their own stocks of PPE, purchasing from approved providers.  However, it is important to remember that physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene remain strongly evidenced to be the most effective ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

DOES MY CHILD HAVE TO WEAR A FACE COVERING IN SCHOOL?

Welsh Government has made it clear that it is a local decision for schools and local authorities to determine whether a face covering is recommended in school buildings. They are not compulsory. They are not required in the classroom for pupils of any age.

Face coverings are not recommended for primary school children. For secondary school children the decision will be made by the school based on their own risk assessment of their building and how pupils will move around it. Parents should follow advice from their individual school.

If the school does recommend the use of a face covering in communal and busy areas it will be the responsibility of parents to provide them and the responsibility of pupils to wear and store them appropriately. The recommendation is a three layer face covering. If parents are unable to purchase face coverings they can easily be made at home. Below is a link to simple instructions on how to make a three layer face covering.
https://gov.wales/face-coverings-frequently-asked-questions

Flintshire County Council has recommended that secondary pupils wear a face covering on dedicated school transport. Please see the school transport protocol linked to this document.

HOW WILL YOU MAINTAIN PHYSICAL DISTANCING?

Welsh Government has announced that the scientific evidence supports the reduction of physical distancing for children and young people in schools to enable all pupils to return in September. New guidance has been developed and issued to schools.

The focus is on reducing the number of contacts children have with others, rather than just relying on social distancing between pupils. The younger the pupil, the more difficult it is to maintain social distancing. Older pupils are encouraged to try and maintain a 2m distance between themselves and others where practically possible, acknowledging that this might not always be possible in classrooms.

Each school’s arrangements will be different based on their building layout and their curriculum models. Schools have communicated directly with parents about the arrangements they are making for grouping pupils and maintaining effective safety measures.

WHAT FOOD WILL BE PROVIDED?

Schools catering services will be fully operational from the start of the new academic year for pupils who buy a school meal or are entitled to a free school meal. New operating models have been developed with schools to support their arrangements for managing pupils and new menus have been developed to enable the provision of food as quickly and safely as possible. A hot and cold option will be provided every day. These menus will be regularly reviewed and further developed as schools settle into their new ways of working.

Pupils who normally take a packed lunch can continue to do so. Schools should have communicated any changes to their lunchtime arrangements to parents before the start of term.

Nearly all schools in Flintshire use NEWydd Catering for their meal provision and a link to their website which has useful information is provided below:
http://www.newydd.wales

School all have their own policies on snacks and drinks so parents should refer to that for any additional information.

WHAT IS HAPPENING ABOUT THE DIRECT PAYMENTS FOR CHILDREN ENTITLED TO FREE SCHOOL MEALS WHEN CHILDREN RETURN TO SCHOOL?

As schools will be open for different year groups on different days for the first two weeks of term, the Council has decided to continue making Direct Payments to entitled families up until the week ending 11th September. Entitled parents have been advised that they need to use this money to either buy a school meal on the day(s) their child is present in school or use it to provide them with a packed lunch. Schools will pursue any meal debts incurred by free school meal entitled pupils during this two week period.

From Monday 14th September all pupils entitled to a free school meal will receive it directly at school as they did before the lockdown.

WHAT CAN CHILDREN BRING FROM HOME?

Welsh Government guidance outlines that bringing items from home should be kept to a minimum for safety reasons.

As water fountains will not be safe for use, pupils should bring a bottle of water from home but this should be clearly named and not shared with anyone else. Similarly, other essential equipment e.g. pencil cases, will be permitted but again, pupils will be discouraged from bringing any other unnecessary items with them.

Schools should have communicated their expectations directly to pupils and parents before the start of term.

DO CHILDREN HAVE TO WEAR SCHOOL UNIFORM?

School Uniform policies will be reinstated for September so pupils will be expected to comply. Schools may allow children to wear their PE kit to school on the day they have PE lessons to avoid having to change clothes and manage large numbers of pupils in changing rooms, but parents should check the advice on this matter from their individual schools.

WILL PARENTS BE FINED IF THEY DON’T SEND THEIR CHILD BACK TO SCHOOL IN THE NEW ACADEMIC YEAR?

Welsh Government has stated that a return to school from September is compulsory but that initially, parents will not be fined if their children do not attend. Schools are expected to work with families to actively manage pupils returning to school if there are difficulties. Welsh Government will review this temporary relaxation on penalties for non-attendance during the Autumn term.

WILL CLINICALLY VULNERABLE STAFF OR LEARNERS BE EXPECTED TO RETURN TO SCHOOL?

Yes – Welsh Government have lifted the requirements for shielding. There are regional and local protocols in place to support staff and school leaders in supporting members of staff who may be considered vulnerable safely back into the workplace.

It is expected that all learners except those Educated Other than at School (EOTAS) will return to school in September. If a learner is unable to attend the physical setting of the school for any reason it is vital the school continues to engage regularly with the learner remotely.

WHAT ARE THE TERMS DATES FOR AUTUMN HALF-TERM?

In Flintshire, the autumn half term is for one week only starting Monday 26th October 2020.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY CHILD FEELS UNWELL IN THE MORNING BEFORE LEAVING FOR SCHOOL?

In line with Government and NHS advice, if your child or any member of your household displays any of the following symptoms:
a high temperature
a new, continuous cough
a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste

Your whole household should stay at home and self-isolate.

Anyone with symptoms, even if they are only mild, should book a test.

It is essential that you ensure your child does not travel if they, or anyone in your household, has any of these symptoms. If your transport operator is aware of a symptom prior to travel, transport will be declined.

Schools are asking parents/carers of children showing signs of any other illness to make a decision in the morning before they leave home whether their child is well enough to attend.   With the new arrangements in place to manage learners safely, schools will not have the capacity to look after lots of children who become unwell during the day and make calls for pupils to be collected.

WILL SCHOOLS BE CHECKING MY CHILD’S TEMPERATURE ON ARRIVAL?

No. Welsh Government guidance is clear that it is not appropriate or safe for schools to check pupils’ temperature. This is a parental responsibility. If there is any doubt about the health of a child, parents should make the decision to keep them at home and inform the school in line with usual absence reporting protocols.

WILL ALL EDUCATION STAFF AND LEARNERS BE TESTED FOR COVID-19?

All symptomatic members of the public, including education staff and children are able to book tests for coronavirus.

https://gov.wales/apply-coronavirus-covid-19-test

WHAT HAPPENS IF A PUPIL OR MEMBER OF STAFF TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19?

If a pupil or member of staff in a school tests positive for Covid-19 the Welsh Government’s Trace, Test and Protect programme will begin.

The TTP strategy works by testing those people who have coronavirus symptoms, asking them to isolate from family, friends and their community while taking a test and waiting for a result. People can apply for a test for themselves or someone in their household with symptoms. This includes adults and children including the under 5s.
https://gov.wales/test-trace-protect

WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS A CLUSTER OF CASES IN A SCHOOL?

Building upon the Disease Outbreak Plan for Wales (2020) Public Health Wales has provided specific advice regarding the investigation and management of clusters and incidents of COVID-19 in education settings.

The advice outlines what steps should be taken to protect individuals and communities where clusters and incidents are occurring, as well as reducing spread to other communities.

https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/information-for-healthcare-workers-in-wales/

SCHOOL TRANSPORT

The Council has created a specific School Transport Protocol. Please click on the link below for detailed information about the arrangements for school transport from September.

School Transport Protocol September 2020

WHY ARE FACE COVERINGS NOW MANDATORY ON ALL SCHOOL TRANSPORT IN FLINTSHIRE?

Face coverings must be worn by all secondary aged learners whilst travelling on public transport, including dedicated school taxis.

In addition, all secondary school aged pupils travelling on dedicated school coaches also are required to wear a face covering from Monday, 12 October.  

This decision has been taken to further protect those travelling and to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. This decision has been taken as part of the response to Flintshire now being a health protection zone with tighter restrictions in place to support public safety.

With the spread of coronavirus increasing in Flintshire and surrounding counties, the mandatory wearing of face coverings by children and young people aged over 11 on dedicated school transport is now required in the same way it is on public transport. 

Some children and young people will be exempt from wearing a face covering and these exemptions still apply as for public transport.  

Children under the age of 11 do not have to wear a face covering, however they may choose to wear one but need to be able to handle it safely as directed.