Decision to only reopen schools for three weeks down to staff availability
News | Gareth Axenderrie | Published: 14:25, Wednesday June 24th, 2020.
Last updated: 15:32, Wednesday June 24th, 2020
The decision to reopen schools in Caerphilly for three weeks instead of four was down to concerns about the number of staff available.
In a letter to parents, Caerphilly’s Chief Education Officer confirmed that the decision was made because local authorities could not be sure how many staff would be available as the additional week, proposed between Monday, July 20 and Friday, July 24, was voluntary.
A spokesman for the council confirmed that the decision was a “Gwent-wide approach” after discussions between the Welsh Government, unions and councils failed to reach an agreement on staffing and cover.
NASUWT, Wales’s largest teaching union, told Caerphilly Observer that while the original decision to reopen for four weeks was made by the Welsh Government, it came before an agreement on how to implement the additional week was reached.
On Monday, June 22, the First Minister said pupils won’t miss out “on the fundamentals” as he conceded that the decision to reopen schools for an additional week had failed to be implemented in many local authorities across Wales.
The Education Officer’s letter to parents on Tuesday, June 23, also laid out the agreements that are in place between the council and schools.
These include all schools completing risk assessments, policies such as first aid being updated and deep cleaning on a daily basis.
There are continuing concerns about transport provision, however.
The council has confirmed that normal transport provision for pupils who live a distance from their schools is extremely limited. Transport is usually provided in the form of school buses or taxis, however both are restricted by the ongoing two-metre social distancing guidelines.
Speaking at the Welsh Government’s daily press briefing on Wednesday, June 25, Education Minister Kirsty Williams encouraged parents to use ‘active travel’ – walking/cycling – or their own vehicles.
She added that if most parents do take responsibility for their own children’s travel, transport provision can be provided for those most in need.
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