Are all schools and special needs resource bases (SNRBs) opening for all learners in September 2020?
Yes, all schools will be re-opening for all learners from September. There will be a phased approach from the beginning of term and your child's school will contact you with full details of their plans.
Will the Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) be open for learners in September 2020?
Yes, the PRU will open in September, following the same Welsh Government guidance as other Torfaen schools.
Will schools be open to Nursery and Reception children?
Yes, children in nursery and reception classes will return to school in September. Schools will contact parents directly to confirm dates and times.
Is it safe for children to go back to school?
Children are not a major risk group of the COVID-19 disease and seem to play a less important role from the transmission point of view. The negative effects of not going to school must be weighed against the possible positive indirect effects it might have on the mitigation of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, measures can and are being put in place in schools to minimise the risks to children and adults.
Will there be an extra week’s holiday in October?
Schools in Torfaen will not be adding a further week to the October half term holiday because they were not open for an extra week in the summer term.
Is attendance at school compulsory from September?
Attendance at school will be compulsory from September and parents and carers must ensure their children go to school unless they are unwell.
Will support for key worker children continue in September?
The support we put in place for key worker families will stop on 21 August 2020 because all children will be going back to school from September.
If I want to send my child to school and the school does not have enough staff, what can I do?
If a school does not have enough staff to operate safely, it may have to close because of health and safety reasons. Safety will be schools first priority. Parents and carers will be contacted directly by their child’s school if this becomes necessary.
Will my child be with their own teacher?
This is possible but not guaranteed. Schools still need to try to maintain constant contact groups from September and this could affect how they staff some classes.
Will learners have to wear uniform?
It is for the governing body of a school to make decisions regarding school uniform, but it is expected that most will return to their usual uniform policies from September. Schools will be informing their parents and carers directly on this issue.
Health & Safety
Will staff and pupils all need to wear PPE to attend?
It is important to remember that physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene (catching a cough or sneeze in a tissue or covering the mouth and nose with an elbow or sleeve) remain strongly evidenced to be the most effective ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Hand hygiene is critical before and after all direct contact with a child or young person, and after cleaning equipment and the environment.
There is therefore no need to use personal protective equipment (PPE) when undertaking routine educational activities in classroom/school settings.
The use of PPE by staff within education settings should be based on a clear assessment of risk, taking into account each individual setting and the needs of the individual learners and staff. Schools, settings and local authorities already have risk assessments processes in place which should be used to identify the need for the use of PPE. Following any risk assessment, where the need for PPE has been identified, it should be readily available and provided.
Should children wear PPE to school?
Every school has a thorough risk assessment in place and new measures to reduce the risk to everyone on site. The key to reducing risk to pupils and staff in school is to have good social distancing, frequent hand washing and effective cleaning processes in place. Although masks can be useful in other contexts we have no advice that they will be helpful in schools. Pupils do not need to wear a mask to school at this time.
Will class sizes be smaller to maintain social distancing?
It is accepted that learners and especially the youngest learners, cannot always socially distance from staff or from each other. Consistent groups will therefore be maintained and kept apart as much as possible to help reduce the risk of transmission by limiting the number of learners and staff in contact with each other to only those within the group. The size of groups will however differ from school to school and in particular between primary and secondary schools where larger groups will be necessary to deliver the full range of curriculum subjects and for learners to receive specialist teaching.
Teachers and staff can if unavoidable operate across different classes and year groups in order to facilitate the delivery of the school timetable. This will be particularly important for secondary schools. Where staff need to move between classes and year groups, they should try and keep their distance from learners and other staff as much as they can, ideally 2 metres from other adults.
Will all schools have hand sanitizers in place?
There will be hand gel in reception areas but soap and water still remains the best way to wash our hands and this will be available for all pupils and staff.
Can learners who have been shielding, or living with people who have been shielding go to school?
Yes they can. Welsh Government changed the advice for this group of people in July 2020, such that from mid-August 2020 they are not expected to stay at home and can return to school or work but they should continue to take steps to protect themselves from coronavirus by keeping a 2m distance from others and washing their hands frequently.
What is the procedure if a member of my household begins to show symptoms – can I send my child to school?
If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), then you must stay at home for at least 10 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.
The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
For anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for at least 10 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period.
What will happen if a pupil goes home from school feeling ill and the illness is subsequently diagnosed as Coronavirus.
We ask all parents and carers to keep the school informed of any changes to your family’s medical state. If someone in your household has a confirmed case and they may have been in contact with others in school, those in their class / group and whoever they may have come into contact with will be sent home and asked to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that class or group do not need to self-isolate unless the child or staff member develops symptoms.
How will social distancing work with my child who receives one-to-one support?
Schools will have risk assessed all of the children who currently receive 1:1, and part of this will have involved a conversation with home. Each child is different and the actions school takes will be personalised.
How will schools manage the end of the school day? Will all children leave at once? How will social distancing be encouraged on the journey home?
Every school is different, some have many entrances and exits to enable this to be done quite easily, whilst others may have only one or two entrances and exits.
On their risk assessments schools will have determined one-way systems, staggered starts and ends to the school day to ensure social distancing. Parents should seek the advice of school staff about what arrangements are in place in their school.
How will schools discourage parents and carers from congregating at the beginning and end of the school day?
Schools will ensure that parents/carers will know the arrival and departure times and expectations of which gates and routes to use. Many schools will have one-way systems where this is possible. Parents/carers will be reminded not to congregate but should also be aware of the social distancing requirements for the general public as well.
How often will frequently used equipment/sites be cleaned?
Buildings must be cleaned regularly. Hard surfaces should be cleaned with warm soapy water or the normal cleaning products used. Particular attention should be given to clean ‘high-touch’ areas and surfaces. These areas should 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.
Rooms should be cleaned before different groups use a room.
Cleaning staff should maintain social distancing from each other and from staff and learners at all times.
Tissues should be placed in a separate waste bin and disposed of safely. All rubbish should be removed daily.
Will schools close again if there is an increase in Coronavirus cases in the area?
Welsh Government we will continue to monitor the number of Coronavirus cases nationally and locally and could instigate a national or more localised lockdown again if needed. In the event that happened schools would draw on their experience to date to ensure continuity of education within a broader framework of local restrictions.
As a family we do not agree with giving our consent to participating in the NHS track and trace scheme, and do not want our family contact details passed from school to the NHS or any other agency for the purpose of tracking and tracing. It is our opinion that any agency having or using our data without our consent is in breach of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) and therefore illegal.
All schools will be taking all necessary precautions to protect pupils returning to school, but can appreciate these concerns. Schools would not conduct Covid-19 testing on the school site and would not give personal details to the NHS for testing and contact tracing. However as a school any persons displaying symptoms of Covid-19 would be sent home, and advised to arrange a test and ensure self-isolation guidance is adhered to, which will minimise the risk of transmission of infection. Everyone has to be prepared to do what is right and protect themselves, their families and their communities through self-isolation. For learners, parents will be advised to arrange a test for their child. If the test comes back positive, the council would appreciate if the pupil’s school could be informed. This way the school would be able to inform its staff and pupils that they may have come into contact with an infectious person but would at no point release names or personal details.
The Welsh Government has issued guidance about contact tracing which is included below:
What registered and/or funded childcare is available?
Further information on what is available in Torfaen is available as follows:
Family Information Service
The Torfaen Family Information Service (FIS) provides free, quality, impartial information on a wide range of Childcare, Children's, Family Support and Family related issues and where relevant a signposting service. For information about funded childcare, and information about open registered childcare provision across Torfaen visit: www.torfaenfis.org.uk or email: firstname.lastname@example.org contact telephone number: Freephone 0800 0196 330.
Home to School Transport
Will transport be provided? What about pupils who travel on public transport?
Home to School Transport will be available for those who ordinarily qualify for it. Further details will be issued before the start of term.
Well Being and Behaviour
What will happen if learners break social distancing rules, does this become a behavioural issue?
The operation of a school or setting will have an important impact on learners’ physical, mental and emotional and social well-being. When planning to increase operations, schools and staff will consider how this has an impact on well-being.
For example, staff should positively reinforce behaviours around social distancing and hygiene as opposed to stigmatising mistakes. Likewise, the timetable and layout should ensure that there are appropriate opportunities for breaks and time outdoors.
Schools and settings will be alert to identify and support learners who exhibit signs of distress. Pastoral care and bereavement support should be planned for and put in place.
My child wants to go back to school but feels anxious, what help will the school give?
Staff in schools and settings will be very much aware of the needs of their colleagues, their learners and families who may be under additional emotional, financial and psychological pressure at this time. Learners are more likely to be anxious and their health and well-being more likely to be impacted by changes of routine and the implications of lockdown. Over time, learners and staff are also more likely to encounter instances of serious illness and bereavement.
The local authority is already working with schools and settings to consider how best to support the ongoing well-being needs of all learners at this time.
For the safety and well-being of all those involved, it is also crucial that services are delivered in a way that is consistent with the expert scientific advice provided.
While staff, learners and parents/carers may feel apprehensive about the risks, it is important to remember that provision will be made far safer through adherence to guidelines. Social distancing, hygiene and self-isolation of those showing symptoms, or living with someone showing symptoms, will minimise the risk of transmission of infection. The ‘Test, Trace, Protect’ strategy is critical to supporting this.
What about pupils with complex needs?
Risk assessments should already exist for learners with more complex needs, including those with emotional and behavioural needs. These risk assessments will require to be updated as a matter of priority in light of changes to provision such as environment and staffing, while also remaining mindful of the additional distress learners may be experiencing due to COVID-19. If risk assessments are not in place, then they must be undertaken in accordance with this guidance and local risk assessment guidance.
What is happening about Statutory Assessments?
The local authority is considering all new requests for initial statutory assessments and formal statutory assessments on an individual basis. Schools have been encouraged to continue with the annual review process, where this can be carried out over the phone or through a virtual meeting with parental agreement. This process has been positive with many reviews being managed in this way. During the Summer school holidays, the assessment process is paused and the process commences at the end of August. Should you require any further information regarding this process, please contact the ALN team on 01495 766998.
School Meals and Free School Meals
Will school meals be provided in schools?
The catering service is available to all children from the 3rd September however, provision will vary and can be found on your schools website or on the school meals section of the Torfaen website.
Will pupils eligible for free school meals be provided with lunch?
The catering service is available to all children. Primary Schools have chosen either the hot menu/plated salad (no full salad bar) or a packed lunch provision for the first few weeks. Please refer to your individual school website to confirm the actual provision available in each school.
If I want my child to have a school meal, how do I pay?
You can pay online using the Council’s Payment Pages or via the Council’s Automated Payment Line (0300 4560516). Please do not send cash in with your child to pay for school meals. A letter outlining the payment process and details of your child’s account reference will be issued by the school. We have prepared a video to walk you through how to make an online payment.
If you already pay for your child’s school meal in this way; please continue to do so using the pupil account reference issued to you. However, if your child is moving up to Y7, please refer to the letter issued by the school regarding online payment of school meals as this will advise your child’s new account reference for comprehensive school.
Unfortunately until further notice, the option of paying cash at a Council office is not available.
This does not apply to Croesyceiliog Comprehensive, where cash will still be taken in the short-term and St Albans, where a different payment system is in operation. For these schools, please refer to the information sent out by the school.
Will Breakfast Clubs be running?
Breakfast clubs will not be running until 14th September at the earliest.
Will milk be provided?
The provision of milk to Nursery and KS1 children who would normally receive it, will be provided from Monday 14th September onwards.
What can I do to keep safe?
The most important things all of us can do is to keep good hygiene. During the day you need to wash your hands regularly and your school will have plenty of soap for this. Also trap any coughs and sneezes in a tissue or your elbow.
Will I have to keep 2m away from other children?
Everyone did a great job of trying to keep 2m apart but we know how hard it is. From September you will be in a class or year group and will need to stay within this group. Within your group there will be times you will not be able to keep 2m away from other children. Teachers will explain what you will need to do, and be there to help if there are any problems.
What can I bring to school?
You should only bring the items you will really need to school, such as lunch boxes, bags, hats, coats, books, stationery and, if allowed, mobile phones. You will be able to take books and other shared resources home, but you should try to limit who you share those items with.
Do I need to wear school uniform?
Your school will let your parents know what you can wear to school. It is more than likely you will be asked to start wearing your uniform again.
Do I need to wear a mask in school?
You do not need to wear a mask in school. What really matters is that you wash your hands frequently during the day, and that you follow what your teachers say about social distancing. We will also make sure that that your school is kept really clean every day.
Will we be doing school work?
You will be doing school work but teachers will also spend time catching up with pupils and making sure everyone is okay. There will also be lessons on good hygiene and other things you will all do differently in school now because of coronavirus.
What will break times be like?
Classes are likely to have break at different times. This will mean more space on the yard and field. It is unlikely that games where pupils are in contact like tag, football or rugby will be allowed in the normal way but schools will come up with clever ways to ensure you can still have fun. Pupils may be able to have some play equipment out, as long as they are things that can clean easily before the next person uses them.
What will happen at lunchtime?
We are still looking at the arrangements for dinner times and will publish details before the start of term.
What should I do if I feel sick?
It is really important you tell an adult straight away if you feel ill. This is to help keep you and your friends safe.