Parents and carers in Rhondda Cynon Taf have received a letter outlining the school arrangements after half term – with Foundation Phase pupils returning to face-to-face learning in a phased approach from February 22.
The letter, sent by the Council’s Director of Education and Inclusion Services, highlights Welsh Government’s latest position on the return to school. On January 29, the First Minister announced that if the number of Coronavirus cases continued to fall, plans would be in place for the youngest learners in primary schools to return to the classroom in phases. The latest published medical evidence supports this position, which was confirmed by the Education Minister on February 5.
From Monday, February 22, the safe return to school for children in nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 2 will begin. All pupils in the Foundation Phase will return by February 26, and schools will contact pupils to let them know which year group is starting on which day.
The current provision for children of critical workers will continue on school sites after the half term break, during school hours – this provision is for mainstream learners in Years 3 to 8, learners in Years 7 to 11 accessing learning support class provision in secondary schools and learners in Years 3 to 13 in special schools. Vulnerable learner provision will also continue for those in Years 3 and above. Any queries about eligibility for the vulnerable learner and critical worker provision should be directed to individual schools.
Breakfast Club provision will be made available in all primary school settings from February 22 – for Foundation Phase learners who were previously successful in obtaining a Breakfast Club place for the spring term, and for learners accessing vulnerable learner/critical worker provision on school sites (subject to availability).
Catering for school meals will be available on site as normal for purchase. Free School Meal payments will continue for those in the Foundation Phase up until February 26. Eligible children who have returned to school for face-to-face learning will receive a Free School Meal in school from February 22. Payments will continue for those learners who are not eligible to return to school at this stage (thus continuing with remote learning), and also for learners across all year groups who are shielding or self-isolating.
Remote learning will continue for all learners in Year 3 and upwards – as well as for those pupils who are shielding or self-isolating.
Please note, all other national Alert Level 4 restrictions are currently set to remain in place beyond February 22, so children and families must continue to stay at home and engage in essential travel only, outside of school hours.
When collecting pupils from school, parents/carers must adhere to 2-metre social distancing at all times and wear face coverings on school grounds. It is recommended that only one adult takes their child/children to and from school and parents /carers must leave the school site immediately and not congregate. School transport will run as normal for entitled pupils.
Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services, said: “Due to the general trend of a continued reduction in Coronavirus cases, Welsh Government has confirmed that a safe and phased return to school for our youngest learners will be started after half term on February 22. This is very positive news, and the first step towards a full return of all pupils, which is what we all want to achieve.
“I’d like to reiterate the thanks given by the Director of Education and Inclusion Services in her letter to parents and carers this week. The support received by young people in home learning has been absolutely invaluable, with many parents and carers achieving this alongside their employment and other essential commitments.
“This hard work has also been reflected in the tremendous effort of our school staff across the County Borough, in arranging and carrying out home learning and support, and also providing face-to-face learning for our critical worker provision and continued support for vulnerable learners. I’m sure everyone is looking forward to welcoming nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 2 pupils back to school, to resume face-to-face learning in the classroom environment.
“The wider national Alert Level 4 restrictions are currently set to remain in place, so it is still very important for children to follow the stay at home rules when not in school. Remote learning will continue for Year 3 and upwards, and again I’d like to thank all of our young people for their commitment at this very challenging time, and their families for the continued support they are giving at home.”