Schools

What is happening and when?

Schools will start to reopen on 29th June, with the summer term ending on 17th July.

Childcare provision will be delivered at individual schools between 22nd June and 17th July.

Here are some key points:

  • It will not be ‘business as usual’ at the school sites.
  • Our absolute priority is to provide a safe environment for pupils and school-based staff and we are taking great care and caution to make changes to our buildings and working practices to achieve this.
  • Reopening of our schools will be a gradual process, and remote learning will continue to be a key part of our education provision for pupils
  • Our philosophy has always been that young people in Neath Port Talbot are given the best start in life so they can be the best they can be. This partial return to school will ensure young people will not have to go almost half a year without experience of the school setting.
  • It will also help to make sure pupils, their parents and our staff are prepared mentally, emotionally and in practical terms for another important return to school – when the September term starts.
  • We will continue to work closely with our schools to ensure that they are all in the best place possible to reopen safely for pupils

Why now?

Since the decision to close schools for statutory provision, our understanding of the virus and its longer-term impacts has continued to develop.

We are now creating the opportunity for children to Check in, Catch Up and Prepare before the start of September.

Head teachers and school staff have been working hard with governing bodies to prepare a smooth return to school for children and young people on June 29th and excellent progress has been made.

Our focus is to provide the best outcome for our children and young people.

There is more detail in a letter to head teachers and you can read it here.

How are we preparing?

Work is already under way with Head Teachers in five distinct areas aimed at managing the phased, safe reopening of schools:

There will be specific challenges relating to home to school transport and we will be strongly encouraging parents to transport their children to school in accordance with the advice provided by their Head Teacher. However, we also acknowledge that this may not be possible in all circumstances and we are currently modelling a range of potential solutions to ensuring access to schools.

We accept that some solutions may not be universally welcomed, however we are committed to working with schools and their communities to explore innovative ways of meeting pupils’ needs.

Training on cleaning and hygiene is being delivered to all schools, focusing on the enhanced practice needed to provide safe environments for pupils and staff.

Development and management of entry and exit strategies, social distancing requirements, break and lunch times, use of resources etc.

During the first few weeks of reopening significant emotional health and wellbeing support will be needed for staff and pupils alike. We have prepared a range of resources, including lesson content, and guidance to support schools in this key aspect.

Our school based counselling service will also be available.

Some weeks ago the council’s Directorate of Education established a number of Head Teacher focus groups to provide a forum for regular contact and discussion opportunities for our senior school leaders. A Q&A portal has since been established to share questions and answers with all school staff.

We have undertaken a survey with parents through our schools to capture and understand the concerns and aspirations of parents in these difficult times. This feedback from parents is helping the council to prepare pupils for their return to school.

The council will provide regular information for parents via schools, in addition to updates for the general public on the council’s website and schools will provide regular information to parents via social media and other established means of communication.

What is being planned?

In each school there will be a phased approach. This means that, at most, a third of pupils will be present at any one time.

There will be much smaller classes, providing secure dedicated time with teachers and classmates.

Head Teachers have already modelled how classrooms could look under the 2 meter social distancing rule, and how their school would operate safely for pupils, considering issues like entry and exit strategies, break and lunch times, use of resources etc.

Each school will develop its own bespoke reopening plan and risk assessment including:

  • details on how many pupils will attend each day and from each year group
  • how social distancing and hygiene will be managed
  • how catering arrangements will be managed, and
  • how learning will be modified to meet children’s needs and many other aspects

Frequently Asked Questions

​These FAQs will address generic operational issues relevant to all schools. If you have specific questions, please contact your school.​

Pupils will begin to return to school on Monday 29th June for 3 weeks. Schools will close 17th July.

Schools will provide clearly marked areas (eg using yard paint, tape or bollards) for pupils waiting to enter the school building.

The marked areas will provide guidance on safe social distancing requirements for pupils and parents/carers.

In order to reduce transmission, we recommend that as few items as possible are brought between home and school.

Permissible items include a lunch box and specialist equipment for lessons (eg PE kit) but only when absolutely necessary.

Yes. The council has advised schools to clean and wipe down high use touch areas and surfaces more frequently using a disinfectant cleaner and a disposable cloth.

The council will offer support and guidance to all schools to ensure compliance with Welsh Government guidance and local authority protocols.

Head Teachers have already modelled how classrooms could look under the 2 metre social distancing rule, and how their school could operate safely for pupils, considering issues like entry and exit strategies, break and lunch times, use of resources etc. This will be supported by appropriate signage.

Each school will develop its own bespoke reopening plan and risk assessment and as part of this schools will need to determine how many pupils can safely be accommodated on the premises taking into account learning spaces, movement in corridors, toilet areas and so on.

The council has provided general risk assessment framework guidance for schools to adapt to their own situation and support is available for head teachers throughout the risk assessment process from the council’s Corporate Health and Safety Team including the provision of professional advice and guidance.

The council is working with schools to develop protocols around the use of toilets during break and lunch times.

Where possible, the following protocols should be observed:

  • Pupils to use toilets ‘one at a time’ and not to use urinals.
  • Warm water and soap are available at all times, in all cloakrooms/toilets for pupils and staff.

Yes, however, the catering service will work with individual schools to determine the suitability of a hot meal provision depending on individual school facilities.

Depending on the outcome of this assessment, a decision may be made to either utilise existing canteen facilities with the required social distancing measures in place or for all pupils to eat lunch in their own (class or registration form) room or a mix of both.

Yes.

However, it is important to note that any food/packaging brought from home must be taken back home by pupils and schools should determine appropriate controls that will need to be in place to ensure that cross contamination is limited as much as is practical.

Pupils need to bring their own packed lunchbox and a water bottle, clearly labelled with their name.

Pupils (and staff) must not take books or any other resources between home and school.

No.

At present, there are no plans to resume breakfast clubs.

However, the council will work with schools to identify the opportunities to provide suitable breakfast food in each classroom (at the start of the school day).

The situation will be reviewed over the summer break and the council will provide further information then.

Payment should be made by Parent Pay or similar payment transfer arrangements. Money should not be collected in school. Biometric payment systems will be wiped with an antibacterial substance between uses.

All children entitled to free school meals will be expected to pay for their meals as registered families will continue to receive a weekly BACS payment.

The council is currently in discussion with Welsh Government officials regarding this matter. Further information will follow in due course.

Schools will provide regular local information to parents via social media and other established means of communication.

The council will also ensure regular communication will be provided to parents/carers via schools and on the council’s website.

This will include letters to parents prior to re-opening, outlining routines and expectations about social distancing, hygiene and cleaning.

The council’s recommendation is that schools stagger break times in order that contact between pupils is minimised and sufficient area is provided for outdoor activities. This will be included within the school’s play risk assessment.

Hand sanitisers will be available at all entry and exit points to enable pupils to clean their hands when they leave and re-enter the school building.

Access to playground equipment will be limited and cleaned after each use by separate groups.

The summer term should be used to provide opportunities for pupils and staff to readjust to being back with their peers within a school environment, with a strong focus on their emotional health and wellbeing for the remainder of the summer term.

Senior school leaders and staff are best placed to manage the balance between care for emotional needs and learning and to decide how these aspects can be blended.

Yes – we understand that some parents may be anxious about sending their child to school.

If a child remains at home, schools will continue to provide (online and/or physical) work.

Parents are encouraged to transport their own children to school.

Due to safety measures, passenger capacity is drastically reduced which means our ability to provide home to school transport is significantly restricted.

 

Schools will undertake a detailed assessment of all available collection and drop off points. Due to expected increased number of vehicles, drop off and collection points will be assessed for suitability and the site’s traffic management plan updated.

No. Pupils will be encouraged to wear appropriate, easily washable clothing and footwear.

Useful links / resources