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Two-week October half-term planned in case of a Covid-19 spike

By Elgan Hearn | Mid Wales | Politics | Published:

The fear of a second coronavirus spike in October was a factor in allowing children in Powys to return to school for four weeks this summer.

Powys County Council was one of three local authorities in Wales that reopened schools for the full four weeks that the Welsh Government wanted.

At the Learning and Skills scrutiny meeting on Friday, July 31, members were told that a two-week half-term in October had been organised with coronavirus in mind.

Education portfolio holder, Councillor Phyl Davies, said the extra week was about: “Seeking to make good use of schools during a time when the R rate and infections across Wales is at a low point, giving us more certainty than we may have later in the year.”

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He added that there were growing concerns about children’s mental health and that they would also need to learn new skills for an extended period of home or a combination of home and school learning when reopening of schools was being organised.

Councillor Davies added: “When the report was written the statistical modelling suggested that October might be a particularly difficult time in terms of pandemic spread.

“Our schools will therefore be closed for two weeks in that month, but with our pupils better equipped for the next phase.

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“This was to be a natural fire-break in the pandemic.”

The percentage of Powys children who did go back to school:

  • Week one – 73 per cent
  • Week two – 74 per cent
  • Week three and four- 78 per cent

Committee member and a Sennybridge primary school governor,Graeme Robson, said: “Feedback from the children is that they did enjoy going back for those four weeks.

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“It was very much welcomed.”

Mr Robson added that the extra week had been especially important for children in Year 6 who are leaving primary school to start secondary school in September.

“Well done on being one of the few counties in Wales that did this,” added Mr Robson.

In other Welsh local authorities councils, schools finished on the original summer term date of July 17, giving children three weeks to check in, catch up and prepare for September.

Pupils on Anglesey only went back for just one week, due to a Coronavirus outbreak at a meat processing plant in Llangefni in June.

Elgan Hearn

By Elgan Hearn
@ElganPowysLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Powys.

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