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Term begins for schools across Bridgend County Borough

Pupils have returned to classrooms across Bridgend County Borough this week after the festive period.

Despite concerns over rising COVID-19 cases affecting services in the county borough, the majority of pupils returned to schools as planned on Thursday 6 January.

Robust plans will be put in place at schools and colleges after guidance was issued by Welsh Government. The guidance requires staff and secondary school learners to wear face coverings in school, including in classrooms.

Schools and colleges have also been asked to plan for the most protective measures which can include the use of one-way systems, consistent seating plans, using suitable outdoor spaces, the use of contact groups and not holding large group gatherings such as assemblies.

Free breakfast provision has been delayed to 17 January at five schools – Garth Primary School, Llangynwyd Primary School, Llangrallo Primary School, Croesty Primary School and Coety Primary School – due to staff capacity issues.

In addition, the breakfast provisions at Brackla Primary School and Trelales Primary School remain closed due to ongoing recruitment issues.

A number of changes have also been made to regular testing, contact tracing and self-isolation requirements.

All staff and secondary school age learners and above are now strongly advised to use lateral flow tests (LFTs) three times a week as a method of identifying asymptomatic cases. Children and young people aged 5-17 and fully vaccinated adults are now asked to take an LFT every day for seven days if they are identified as a contact of a positive Covid-19 case.

Additional LFT kits have been made available to primary schools to help support this change. Schools and colleges are able to order and distribute one pack of seven LFTs to each member of staff and secondary aged learner and above on a weekly basis.

In order to support schools and colleges, Welsh Government has announced that over £100m of funding will be made available.

The funding package includes £50m to be provided via the local authority which will help schools carry out repair and improvement work, with a focus on health and safety measures such as improving ventilation.

Funding will also be available to support school budgets, to ensure learning at further education colleges can continue safely and to ensure the most disadvantaged learners are not further impacted by the pandemic.

I would like to thank all staff in our schools who have worked tirelessly to ensure that schools and colleges are prepared to welcome back pupils to a safe environment.

We also welcome the Welsh Government funding which will provide vital financial support to our schools and colleges as they carry out work to make our teaching environments safer.

Bridgend County Borough Councillor Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration

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