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What you can expect today, if your child goes to school in Rhondda Cynon Taf

Schools across Rhondda Cynon Taf are looking forward to welcoming the first pupils back to the classroom on Monday, June 29 – providing the opportunity for young people to Check In, Catch Up and Prepare with their teachers.

From next week, schools in Rhondda Cynon Taf will be accessible for all children of statutory school age to have time with their teachers before the summer break – after they closed for mainstream education during March due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Important work has been ongoing across our schools, to ensure pupils and staff can return while adhering to social distancing as far as possible.

As a result, school life will be a little different from Monday – with pupils taught in smaller groups and up to a third of pupils attending school at any one time. Buildings will have signs and markings to ensure compliance with social distancing measures, such as one-way systems in corridors and waiting points outside classrooms and toilets. Classrooms will have fewer seats and desks to create greater scope for social distancing, and transparent screens will be provided for one-to-one tuition.

Strict hygiene measures and rigorous cleaning routines will be adhered to and dedicated pedal bins provided to safely dispose of waste. Opportunities for social interaction will be minimised and learners will be kept in small discrete groups where possible. Schools will have safe processes and procedures for morning and afternoon ‘drop-off’ and ‘pick-up’ times to ensure there are no large gatherings outside schools.

All pupils must bring in a packed lunch and should also have a re-fillable water bottle. Pupils who are eligible for Free School Meals pupils will be provided with a packed lunch.

The Council has shared a video on social media outlining some of the general changes to expect during the school day, and some new things to look out for in school buildings. Parents and pupils can view this on our Facebook (‘Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’) and Twitter (@RCT Council) accounts.

It is understandable that parents and pupils may have many queries and questions, and the Education Directorate in partnership with the Integrated Transport Unit has published a detailed list of Frequently Asked Questions covering a wide range of topics – from changes to our school buildings to catering, the school day, uniform, illnesses, vulnerable learners, transport and more. The FAQs are available at www.rctcbc.gov.uk/schoolfaqs.

The Education Directorate has also confirmed emergency childcare arrangements for this period, with provision available across all school settings to successful applicants. Further details are available at www.rctcbc.gov.uk/publichealthrct.

Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services, said: “Since Welsh Government’s announcement on June 3, that all schools will be open to learners from June 29, there has been tremendous activity and close working between the Council and our schools. Direct support and wide ranging guidance has been published by the Education Directorate to support schools during this important recovery phase, and excellent progress has been made by schools in preparation for children’s return to school.

“The Council has worked in close partnership with our schools to ensure that social distancing regulations can be maintained in wide-ranging contexts including classrooms, corridors and school buses. All schools are now well placed to deliver our emergency childcare offer, which will be transferring from 25 hub settings to all schools from Monday. Schools have planned carefully for the return of learners so that opportunities can be provided for all learners of statutory school age and post 16 learners to access school. Blended learning opportunities will be provided for all learners, including vulnerable learners, so that the right balance between distance learning and direct teaching can be achieved.

“Welsh Government has been very consistent in its message that every child and school context will be different, and that schools will allow for individual circumstances and parental choice in relation to whether pupils attend. Local schools are ready to welcome pupils to Check In, Catch Up and Prepare, giving them important direct learning time, with school life set to be different for some time to come.

“I’d like to thank all of our heateachers, teachers and support staff for their continued hard work, as we continue to support our young people at this unprecedented time.”