Schools in Rhondda Cynon Taf will only be open to high priority vulnerable learners and staff on December 17 and 18. All other learners will be provided with digital or distance learning opportunities and wellbeing support in the home setting on December 17 and 18.
This decision has been taken in consultation with headteachers and is deemed essential to keep our learners and staff safe. While our schools have well-established preventative measures in place, the rise in COVID-19 in our communities is having an impact on our schools and a number of key actions are now required
These arrangements will support the ability of schools to support the Track and Trace process in advance of the Christmas break.
County Borough Councillor Joy Rosser, Cabinet Member for Education & Inclusion Services said: “We have recently seen an increasing number of Covid-19 cases in our County Borough. Whilst this pattern has been mirrored in our schools the rates are relatively low but are steadily increasing.
“As the rate of Covid-19 in our local communities has risen, so has the consequential impact on the numbers of staff and children in our schools requiring self-isolation due to a confirmed diagnosis or close contact with a confirmed case. Community transmission and the numbers of self-isolating staff is also impacting on our capacity to staff our schools. In order to mitigate transmission risks further, it now considered that local measures are required for the last two days of term.
“As a Council we have been lobbied from both perspectives, from one side to close schools sooner and the other to maintain direct teaching until the scheduled conclusion of term. We have sought to strike a balance between preventing a further escalation in confirmed cases in our schools and maintaining continuity in learning through direct teaching, against the impact these changes may create for parents and carers. We must recognise that the impact of Covid-19 on certain communities has been significant and these preventative measures will seek to mitigate risks for our learners and staff.
“All schools will remain open for learners on the 14th, 15th and 16th of December. However, schools will only be open for high priority vulnerable groups and staff on December 17 and 18. These pupils will continue to access education on school sites on these dates unless the school is closed for INSET. All other children will access learning remotely through distance and digital learning.
“I would like to put on record the thanks of the Council for the excellent work of our schools in providing effective preventative measures to minimise the risk of the virus spreading, for responding swiftly to confirmed cases and for identifying close contacts requiring self-isolation when necessary.
“It is hoped that these essential measures will help to keep children, staff and communities safe and minimise the transmission of Covid-19. Schools have played an invaluable role in the identification of close contacts and by restricting the numbers of learners accessing education on school sites for the last two days of term, we are providing enhanced capacity to undertake robust contact tracing and further minimising the risks of transmission and the self-isolation of close contacts.
“These arrangements will remain under review over the next week and further measures may be necessary in the event of significant increases in transmission in our communities.”
Schools, Education and Children’s Services will work in partnership to identify high priority vulnerable learners which will include those with additional learning needs, young carers and/or children with an allocated social worker. Children deemed to be high priority for accessing education on December 17 and 18 will be notified by their respective schools.
All high priority vulnerable learners that are eligible for school transport will continue to access home to school transport and school lunches on the days that they are in school.