Changes to learning and teaching in schools.
What measures are in place to ensure schools are safe for learners and staff?
The Public health advice for schools: coronavirus offers flexibility to determine what is required to manage risks
Within the advice, it is recognised that COVID-19 has not gone away and will remain with us globally. For this reason, it remains important for schools and settings to consider what they can do to reduce the spread of the virus, and protect their learners and staff, including any additional protections for those who are more vulnerable. By continuing to implement public health control measures, schools and settings will help keep the spread of the virus low, improve public and staff confidence and minimise the potential of further disruption.
With increasing numbers of people vaccinated and everyone’s continued efforts the risks from COVID-19 should now be considered in the same context as other communicable diseases risks (for example flu and norovirus).
Can my child attend school if they have a cold?
If a child has mild cold-like symptoms, they should continue to go to school, if fit to do so.
The three main symptoms of COVID-19 to be aware of are:
- a new continuous cough
- fever or high temperature
- loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste
If your child develops one of these symptoms they should follow the guidance for people with symptoms of a respiratory infection, including COVID-19.
What support is available for the education workforce?
Support is available for the education workforce through the Education Support Partnership (ESP), a charity dedicated to supporting the health and well-being of education staff.
ESP has been developing digital resources to provide support to education staff during these very challenging times. These have been based on the key themes of anxiety, grief and isolation.
Confidential emotional support is also available via the ESP 24/7. Call their counselling helpline on 08000 562561 or visit the ESP website. The ESP can also provide financial assistance through its grants service.
What measures are in place for pregnant staff?
We need to take a precautionary approach in relation to long COVID in pregnancy and undertake individual risk assessments and ensure that both the employer and pregnant mother are content; research has shown that there is a risk is from 26 weeks. Because COVID-19 is a respiratory infection, an effect is that it can make you hypoxic. This could harm the baby and make it extremely difficult for the mother to go through either natural birth or have an anaesthetic. We cannot overemphasize the importance of vaccination to protect mothers and babies.
Risk assessments must be undertaken on anyone that is 26+ pregnant and both the employer and member of staff must be happy with the outcome.
We understand that this measure will lead to additional pressure for employers however, consideration should be given to alternative roles that can be undertaken or working from home. Any issues in relation to funding for staff who are unable to attend work should be directed to the local authority.
Where staff are providing individual or group support for pupils with additional learning needs (ALN), can schools reconfigure the schedule of support to minimise close interactions between individuals?
In line with previous guidance, we would encourage a practical and flexible approach to ensure individual needs are met. This should be considered as part of any risk assessment. For example, timetabling and scheduling one-to-one support over a longer cycle, in order to maintain overall levels of support whilst minimising close interactions between individuals, may be appropriate.
Whilst schools are no longer advised to maintain contact groups, we acknowledge that some schools may wish to tailor provision for some pupils with special educational needs as a result of specific health needs identified as part of the risk assessment process.
Schools should continue to consult parents and carers about specific support needs, and use their discretion flexibly in agreeing the way forward for specific learners.
Who should I inform if I or my child has displayed symptoms of COVID-19?
Children displaying any of the main symptoms of COVID-19, should stay at home and follow the guidance for people with symptoms.
Most people in Wales can no longer access free testing for COVID-19. However, testing is still available to specific groups.
If you wish to test but your child is not eligible for free lateral flow tests (LFTs) you can purchase them from various retailers.
Children are not required to provide evidence of any negative test on return to school.
My child is under five years old and has symptoms, what do I do?
If your child has any of the main COVID-19 symptoms they should not attend school or childcare, and follow the guidance for people with symptoms.
How should schools balance maintaining adequate ventilation with ensuring people are warm?
Providing adequate ventilation does not mean people have to work in an uncomfortably cold place. There are simple steps you can take to make sure classrooms are adequately ventilated without being too cold.
- Partially opening windows and doors can still provide adequate ventilation.
- Open higher-level windows to create fewer draughts.
- If the area is cold, relax dress codes so people can wear extra layers and warmer clothing.
- Set the heating to maintain a comfortable temperature even when windows and doors are partially open.
- Consider providing additional sources of heating if required. Only use fan convector heaters if the area is well ventilated.
You can also regularly air the space in rooms that rely on natural ventilation, by opening windows and doors as fully as possible. For example, you can do this when pupils leave for a break. Even 10 minutes an hour can help reduce the risk from viruses in the air, depending on the size of the room.
Where can I find information on vaccinations?
In Wales, we are working to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) priority schedule.
The JCVI is the expert body that advises all four UK governments, and the priority schedule of vaccination we are working to is the same as the schedule for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Further information and updates on our vaccination strategy are available.