"SAFETY is the overriding concern" - say the Vale council's education team as they plan for the return of pupils to Vale schools.

Vale council, deputy leader, Cllr Lis Burnett has given an insight into work going on behind the scenes to allow local schools to reopen on Monday, June 29.

The council’s education team has played a key role, working alongside schools, in planning the return in line Welsh Government guidance.

Strict controls have been put in place to protect against coronavirus.

Though numbers of cases are decreasing in Wales, the council says there will be no complacency regarding its threat.


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Cllr Burnett said: “We’ve worked with schools to look at a range of things.

“We need to look at access issues, social distancing, which years come in when.

"There’s also been a lot of talk about bubbles (placing pupils in set groups) and how they’re going to work and, of course, school transport.

“It’s a big task and we’re providing a range of advice and support, just as we have been all along.

"We’ve pulled in all sorts of advice to help them as well.

"Our 21st Century Schools contractors, for example, have created an app to assist schools in looking at all the different things they need to be doing to operate safely and a contact from the contractors is actually going to be available to schools to help them get things like one-way systems right.

“Schools are also already on the ball.

"They’re thinking about what year groups they might bring in, what subjects might be taught on which days and how they’re going to manage things like eating, that sort of stuff.

"Understandably, there is some trepidation about schools returning as the country continues efforts to minimise the risk of covid-19."

She added: “I think it would be totally natural for parents to have concerns because it’s been such a difficult time for everybody.

“What people really want is certainty in what is a very difficult situation, but that’s not always possible.

"We can’t be absolutely explicit in instructions because no two schools are the same and no two children are the same.

"We’re trying to provide a framework of how things might work and then the schools are working out their own solutions to problems and working with parents.

“I think it’s important to say that right since this start local authorities have been in regular contact with Welsh Government.

"We have been in frequent video conferences with all the other councils in Wales and quite often joined by relevant Welsh Government ministers or officials. "These issues are at the top of the agenda all the time.”