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Letter from the Director of Education

Dear Parent / Carer,

You will be aware, I’m sure, that the Welsh Government has announced the phased return to face to face learning for our Foundation Phase learners (3 – 7 year olds) from 22nd February.

We look forward to supporting our schools in their approaches to welcoming children back and ensuring that they benefit from learning and wellbeing provision that will meet their needs following a period of significant disruption. Individual schools will inform parents and carers of local arrangements regarding the phased return of learners and these will be based on considerations that will be pertinent to each setting. However, it is expected that all Foundation Phase learners will have returned to normal provision by the end of that week.

Community transmission rates of COVID-19 in NPT are now significantly lower than they were at the beginning of the year and we would like to thank you for your efforts in exercising behaviours and measures that have impacted so positively on these rates. We would also like to thank all our education workforce for their continued hard work and dedication in ensuring that remote learning and engagement have been sustained during very
challenging times for our pupils. However, we know that even the most effective remote learning provision is not a substitute for the richness of experience that can be gained from face to face engagement. We also know that remote learning is limiting for our youngest learners, who are missing out on theessential foundations for their learning and development.

The reopening of Foundation Phase classes will replace remote learning for learners inthese year groups (Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2) and we strongly advise parents /carers to ensure that children attend.

In order that we continue our excellent efforts to contain the virus, we again ask that families continue to use protective behaviours at all times, these include hand washing, wearing of face coverings, surface cleaning, ventilation and social distancing. They remain the most effective and beneficial ways of protecting yourself, your family, your friends and your community.

We strongly request that parents / carers heed the messages provided by the Welsh Government and the local authority to avoid congregating around school settings and to observe the school’s advice regarding children’s dropping off and picking up arrangements. Furthermore, we expect parents / carers and other visitors to wear face coverings on the school site (whether entering the building or otherwise), including at drop-off and pick-up

Similarly, we advise all families that whilst the return of children to Foundation Phase learning is a small and cautious step towards wider reopening, we must continue to exercise the same control measures in our daily lives that will restrict the transmission of the virus, this includes not permitting sleep overs or other household mixing outside of school, and not sending children to school if they have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19.

We also advise strict social distancing during the journeys made by families to and from schools each day. School transport will continue to be provided in accordance with eligibility and will be operated in line with national guidelines. Schools will still be expected to provide education for vulnerable children and children of critical workers, and special schools should continue to remain open where possible.

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales has confirmed that evidence suggests that schools have been successful in providing safe environments for children and teachers. We echo that view. We are confident that the control measures applied by our schools have been effective in
ensuring that children can return to their learning in Covid secure environments in accordance with the guidance provided by Welsh Government.
Spring is at hand and I am reminded of St.David’s advocacy to do the little things; we must be consistent and conscientious in our responsibilities to do the little considerate things that can make such a massive difference to people’s lives.

We welcome children’s re-engagement with face to face learning and sincerely hope that this will lead to wider opening very soon. For this to happen, we must continue to work together to live lives that are constantly Covid aware and Covid protective. We all have a responsibility to do these things – the little things that will make such a big difference.

Yours sincerely,
Aled Evans
Director of Education, Leisure and Lifelong Learning,
Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council

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