COVID-19: Any specific information relating to Pembrokeshire will be updated at www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/coronavirus

Children and Schools - Transition to the new normal

Return to School Frequently Asked Questions

The following frequently asked questions have been developed to answer the majority of your queries at this time.

The Minister for Education in Wales (Kirsty Williams) announced on 3 June 2020 that all children would have the opportunity to 'Check-in, Catch-up, Prepare' for summer and September. The next phase will start on 29 June 2020 with the term extended by a week and the summer holidays now starting on 27 July 2020. The following frequently asked questions have been developed to answer the majority of your queries at this time. They will be added to and amended as we move closer to 29 June.

If you have a query about your child’s school please contact the school directly

Should you have any queries that aren’t answered here, please email education.coronavirus@pembrokeshire.gov.uk and we will provide you with a timely response.


Questions relating to returning to school

Questions relating to health and safety

Questions relating to childcare

Questions relating to school transport

Questions relating to wellbeing and behaviour

Questions relating to school meals and free school meals


Return to school

Are all schools opening for learners on 29 June 2020?

Yes, all schools will re-open for check-in, catch-up and preparation on 29th June. Your child's school will contact you with the details of their plans once they have had time to plan accordingly in line with the Welsh Government guidance, and these will be published on the school’s website.


What precautionary measure are being put in place by my child’s school?

  • There will be clear signage around the school on the importance of handwashing, hygiene and maintaining social distancing;
  • Breaks and lunchtime may be staggered;
  • There will be an extensive cleaning regime with regular wipe downs of classrooms and communal areas;
  • Only one parent/guardian will be able to drop-off/pick-up a child
  • Each school will have its own designated Medical/Safe room should a child or staff member start to feel ill during the day
  • Each school has calculated the maximum number of pupils that would be able to fit into a classroom whilst adhering to the 2 metre social distancing gap.

Will the Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) be open for learners on 29 June 2020?

Yes, the PRU will open and we are following the Welsh Government guidance to support the planning how the PRU will operate and risk assessments are being undertaken to inform our planning.

Will schools be open to Nursery and Reception children?

Schools will open for Reception children on 29th June, but not for Nursery children.

How do I let my school know that my child/children will start back on 29 June 2020?

All schools have sent a questionnaire to parents to see how many are likely to return. This is necessary to give the school enough time to plan and even more time to plan if school transport is required. Schools will then contact all parents/carers with full details.

When is the last day before the summer holidays?

The last day for pupils will be Friday 24 July.

The last day for pupils is proposed to be Friday 24 July however this date will be confirmed as soon as possible.

Will I be fined if I don't send my child back to school before the summer?

No. Families will not be fined if they do not send their children to school this term. There is an obvious sensitivity to parents and their own instincts and feelings about risks around the virus, particularly those with children with underlying health conditions.

When will instrumental/vocal music lessons start back for pupils at school?

Teaching and lessons in schools are unlikely during the four weeks leading to the end of the summer term. It is hoped that such lessons will be able to resume in September, but we will keep parents updated on this matter as much as possible.

What are the dates for the two weeks October half-term?

Under the revised arrangements the October half-term break will commence on 19th October and end on 30th October

Where can I get more information before deciding if my child will return to school?

Extensive guidance is available on a number of Welsh government and health websites. The Welsh Government guidance was produced on 10 June, but further information regarding your child’s school can be provided by contacting the school or looking at its website.

What support is there for schools before they re-open on 29 June 2020?

Schools are receiving extensive support from the Council as part of their planning for pupils and staff returning on 29th June.  All schools will receive operational guidance from the local authority on a range of matters.  The safety of pupils and staff is our main concern.

My child has a place in a new school and is due to start in September – I want them to start when schools reopen in June to help them settle in, can this happen?

Since the announcement on 3 June from the Education Minister that schools will begin a phased return on 29 June - the general principle for school admissions is that we maintain our stance that transfers will not take place until September.  However, each application is considered on a case-by-case basis and whether there are particular circumstances that necessitate a transfer. Parents will need to contact the admissions officer at admissions@pembrokeshire.gov.uk / 01437 764551 to request a pre-September start date.


Health and safety

Will staff and pupils all need to wear PPE to attend?

No.  There is no need to use PPE when undertaking routine educational activities when in school.  Guidance has been provided to schools on the circumstances staff will be required to wear PPE.  The most effective means of preventing the spread of the virus remains:

  • Maintaining social distancing
  • Hand hygiene
  • Catching a cough or sneeze in a tissue or covering the mouth and nose with an elbow or sleeve.

What is the acceptable number of pupils and staff on site?

Every school will be different due to amongst other matters, the numbers on roll, the layout of buildings and attendance.  However it is likely that the maximum on any school site will be approximately one third of the pupils on roll.

Will all schools have hand sanitizers in place?

Yes, however liquid soap/foam and water still remains the best way to wash our hands and this will be available for all pupils.  Parents should encourage their children to be meticulous with their hand hygiene.

How would drop off and pick-ups work?

Schools are required to plan the appropriate arrangements for drop-off and pick-up of pupils and must ensure that social distancing requirements are met by pupils and adults outside the school.  It is likely that schools will have staggered start and end times to assist with this, however you should contact your child’s school or check its website for details.


Childcare

Are Nursery classes open in all Pembrokeshire schools?

The local authority has taken a decision for only those of statutory school age to return on 29 June.

Will the emergency childcare settings for key workers continue and where will they be based?

Childcare will be provided at each individual school. The purpose of re-opening will be for check-in, catch-up and to prepare for the next stage of learning. Parents will therefore send their children to their usual school if they need to work in critical roles.

Are key worker children to be prioritised first? Will childcare be expected to be run alongside the school re-opening?

Children of key workers and vulnerable children will now go to their normal school from 22 June. The return to school is about checking in, catching up and preparing for September for all who wish to attend school. Start times and groupings will need careful consideration. A school's risk assessment and operational plan will determine who is present at school.

How will the childcare setting work once other pupils return to school on 29 June?

Childcare should work in the usual way using safe distancing in the child's normal school. More children will attend according to the school's risk assessment, available staff and operational plan.

Will childcare provision still be available for vulnerable children and key workers past 3.10pm?

Yes, childcare provision will remain the same as was provided in the hubs.

What registered and/or funded childcare is available?

Registering for Childcare for 0 - 3 year olds

 You can access childcare from the following locations in Pembrokeshire who offer the CCAS funding:

  • Playdays Day Nursery - Fishguard
  • ABC Day Nursery - Haverfordwest
  • Jolly Jumpers Day Nursery - Haverfordwest
  • Withybush Hospital Day Nursery – Haverfordwest
  • Rainbow Reef Day Nursery - Johnston
  • Jumping Beans Day Nursery - Pembroke Dock
  • Happy Days Day Nursery - Milford Haven
  • Tots Nursery-Haverfordwest
  • Stepping Stones Nursery-Haverfordwest
  • Clych Meithrin Hafan Y Mor- Tenby
  • Tiny Treasures- Tenby

There are additional childcare provisions across the County that are not named above.

For further information about these settings, please email: eycs@pembrokeshire.gov.uk or covid19childcarebookings@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

Welsh Government guidance in relation to childcare funding is available at:  https://gov.wales/coronavirus-childcare-under-five-year-olds-providers-guidance

Family Information Service –

As well as offering advice to parents, carers, grandparents, professionals and employers on a range of children's activities and childcare services we can point you in the right direction if you are looking for local parent and toddler groups. 

We can also tell you about services that provide support to parents and carers of children and young people aged 0 - 19 years to help them in their parenting role. 

Providers of childcare services can register and include their information on the FIS database free of charge and receive information on training opportunities.

 The FIS will:

  • Provide support and guidance to help enquirers identify their requirements.
  • Explain the different types of childcare available in Pembrokeshire.
  • Be impartial and objective, offering guidance on how to choose the childcare provision, which is most suited to the enquirer's needs and those of their children.
  • Be committed to respecting the confidentiality of parents, carers and childcare providers.
  • Ensure that parents, carers and providers have the right to decide what details and information they choose to share with us. 

The FIS provides help, advice and support for:

  • Childcare providers and early years play workers.
  • Information and signposting on careers in childcare.
  • Setting up, registering and developing out of school childcare, childminding and pre-school care.
  • Training opportunities and advice on sustaining quality, affordable and accessible childcare.
  • Signposting to local and national voluntary, statutory and private organisations that support children and young people.

https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/child-development

eycs@pembrokeshire.gov.uk


School transport

Who will be eligible for school transport?

School transport entitlement will continue to be in line with guidance from Welsh Government. However due to reduced capacity we urge parents to follow the WG advice and try wherever possible to take their own children to and from school, this will ensure that transport will be available for those most in need

How will social distancing be kept on school transport?

As indicated by WG on Tuesday 9th June 2020 it is virtually impossible to maintain social distancing on public transport, therefore they issued advice that face coverings should be worn at all times when travelling on public transport. We will have the exact same issues on school transport and although we will be ensuring as much distance between passengers as practically possible this may not always be 2m and therefore we would advise all pupils to wear face coverings to ensure not only their own safety but that of everyone travelling on the transport. Face masks will be made readily available as pupils board vehicles should they be unable to gain access to them themselves. Pupils will be only be able to use those seats clearly marked as available with appropriate signage. Any pupils found to be moving around the vehicles, changing seats and not obeying the social distancing rules may lose their right to travel.

Please see link to WG guidance on how to make a 3 ply face mask: https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2020-06/how-to-make-a-3-layer-face-covering.pdf

How many children will be able to travel on each bus/coach?

The number of pupils that will be able to travel at any one time will be significantly reduced due to social distancing (approx. 20%). For example, on a 53-seater coach only 12 pupils will be able to travel.

How will you make sure that all children that need to use school transport can do so?

The availability of suitable vehicles at school start and finish times is going to be limited. We are therefore going to be reliant on schools to let us know which pupils will be attending school on which days. We will do our best to arrange transport around each school's needs, but this is going to be challenging depending on how each school decides to implement the phased return.

Each school will need to confirm which pupils, that are eligible for free transport, are going to attend on each day and to confirm that they will want to travel on the school bus. We suspect many parents will decide to transport their own children to school rather than use the school transport we provide.

We will then allocate each pupil a seat on the transport route, work out the timetable and pick up order for each service, so that pupils board the bus in a set order and sit in designated seats on each vehicle.

Some buses may need to do more than one trip to get all the pupils into and out of school, so there may be staggered arrival and departure times at schools to allow for vehicle cleaning between trips.

Will there be more public transport?

At the moment, Welsh Government has not indicated that this will change to accommodate the re-opening of schools. However, we are working with the local operators to arrange for the school time journeys to be re-introduced. We anticipate that pupils wishing to travel on public transport will have to book a seat via the school.

How will transport look for special schools and those with additional learning needs?

The transport arrangements for pupils with additional learning needs (ALN) will be looked at individually but it is unlikely that we will be able to provide transport using the same 4-seater cars that have been used to-date for many pupils. Subject to risk assessments it is probable that larger vehicles will be required and that passenger assistants will be required to wear PPE due to the need to be in close proximity to the children to carry out their role.

Can I still buy a spare seat on a school bus?

Unfortunately the sale of spare seats has been suspended for the remainder of the 2019/2020 academic year.  If you have already purchased a spare seat you will need to contact the operator to discuss how you will receive a refund. 

The charging for concessionary passes due to be implemented on 1st April 2020 has been suspended until further notice


Wellbeing and behaviour

My child wants to go back to school but feels anxious, what help will the school give?

School staff have received guidance from educational psychologists in managing the potential anxiety that pupils may experience on their return. Further support can be provided from the school counselling service and educational psychologists in cases where the anxiety requires more targeted support. In these circumstances please speak to your child’s headteacher for advice.


School meals and free school meals

Will school meals be provided in schools?

Yes, school meal provision will be available. However, there are likely to be different arrangements to what your child is used to, but your child’s school will be able to advise on these.

Will my child still have breakfast at school?

In all likelihood, yes, but this provision will be assessed on a school by school basis.

Will my child be able to bring a packed lunch to school?

In order to minimise the risk of infection, we would prefer for children not to bring a packed lunch to school.  However, you are advised to check with your child’s school about this.

Will pupils eligible for free school meals be provided with lunch?

Yes, pupils eligible for free school meals will be provided with lunch and will also continue to benefit from the offer of a fortnightly BACS payment from 29 June.

Related links

ID: 6553, revised 02/07/2020